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COVID-19 variant FAQs

In this section

General questions

If you live or work in the identified area

Receiving your test results


General questions

What is a COVID-19 Variant?

All viruses, including the one that causes COVID-19, constantly mutate into new versions or variants. A South African variant of COVID-19 has been detected and cases were found in a few parts of England, including Worcestershire. Currently there is no evidence that it causes more severe illness for most people who become ill.

Why were we testing in Worcestershire?

Extensive surveillance of COVID-19 identified a small number of cases of the COVID-19 variant in the WR3 area of Worcestershire. A limited number of postcodes in the WR9 were also identified as needing additional testing.

Working in partnership with NHS Test and Trace, every person, over the age of 18, living in parts of the WR3 postcode and some WR9 postcodes, was strongly encouraged to take a COVID-19 test.

Over 6,000 people were offered a PCR test, through two dedicated mobile testing units at Sixways Stadium or The White Hart Pub in Fernhill Heath, or via a home test kit delivered to houses and businesses in the area.

What is a PCR test?

A ‘PCR’ test involves taking a swab of the inside of your nose and the back of your throat, using a long cotton bud. The swab is then sent to a laboratory who will test it for presence of the virus. It normally takes between 24 and 72 hours to receive the initial result from this type of test.

To detect the South African variant, swabs that are positive are then sent for another analysis called ‘sequencing’. Results can take much longer to return for this type of analysis.  

How do I find out if I have had the South African variant of COVID-19?

If you have previously had a positive test or had COVID-19, it is difficult to retrospectively find out which variant you've had. However, regardless of which variant, it is very important to complete your self-isolation period to prevent further spread. The guidance and treatment for COVID-19 is the same for all variants.  There is no evidence the South African variant is more serious.

Are there any changes to existing lockdown restrictions?

No, everyone in Worcestershire must continue to follow national lockdown rules and Hands, Face, Space safety precautions at all times You are required to remain at home unless for permitted essential reasons. If you can work from home, please do.


If you live or work in the identified area

I live or work in the affected area but have not taken a test, do I still need to do one?

Dedicated testing for the South African Covid-19 variant has now stopped, following a successful community response.

If you do not have any symptoms but still want to be tested for COVID-19, you can access a rapid (LFT) test at one of our number of community testing sites:

Coronavirus (COVID-19) I do not have symptoms

I have an unused test kit at home, what should I do with it?

If you have an unused test kit at home that you do not need, you can dispose of it.

I have symptoms and live in the affected area

If you have COVID-19 symptoms, you must self-isolate and book a standard COVID-19 test through the NHS via the NHS COVID-19 App, NHS 111 online or by calling 119.


Receiving your test results

You will receive your test results by text message or email. If you do not have access to a mobile number or email address to receive your results, you will need to call 119 after 72 hours from when your kit was collected and inform them you are “non-digital” and seeking your result.

If you do not receive results from your test within 72 hours of the kit being collected, call 119 and quote the barcode number recorded from the vial of your test kit.

It will take longer to determine if you have the South African variant Guidance and treatment for COVID-19 remains the same for all variants.

If your test is negative

Continue to follow local and national guidelines on reducing the spread of coronavirus. Please ensure you maintain social distancing, cover your face when necessary and wash your hands regularly.

If you develop COVID-19 symptoms after you have been tested for the variant, you must self-isolate and book a standard COVID-19 test through the NHS via the NHS COVID-19 App, NHS 111 online or by calling 119.

If your test does not produce a result and is void

If you do not have any symptoms but still want to be tested for COVID-19, you can access a rapid (LFT) test at one of our number of community testing sites:

Coronavirus (COVID-19) I do not have symptoms

If your test is positive

Immediately self-isolate, inform your household and support bubble to self-isolate and notify your employer. Also pass on your details and your contacts to NHS Test and Trace.

Please note:

  • if you have been asked to self-isolate you must follow this advice as it is the law
    • the police can fine £1,000 for breaches, and that could rise to £10,000 for multiple breaches
  • you must complete all 10 days of the isolation even if you feel well, as you can still spread coronavirus to others
  • all non-essential in-house services and repairs should be postponed until the self-isolation period is completed

Most people with COVID-19 will experience a mild illness.

Seek prompt medical attention if your illness or the illness of someone in your household is worsening. It’s important to get medical help if your symptoms get worse.

Urgent advice use NHS 111 online coronavirus service or call 111 if:

  • you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home
  • you feel breathless and it’s getting worse
  • your symptoms get worse and you’re not sure what to do

If there is a medical emergency call 999 and inform the operator you have coronavirus


How can I get help?

Here2Help is a community action response to COVID-19. The service provides a central location for the people who are unable to seek help from family, friends and neighbours. If you need help with supplies including food, please visit: Here2Help or call 01905 768053 and select option 3.

The Here2Help opening hours are Monday to Thursday 9.00am to 5.00pm and Friday 9.00am to 4.30pm.