London: The coronavirus variant that was initially detected in South Africa raising fears about community transmission of the strain, is becoming the subject of urgent testing by the UK.
Eight areas in England, including Surrey, London and Kent, with a population of around 80,000 people reside will be subjected to testing, Xinhua news agency reported,
Regardless of having symptoms or not, segments of population of age 16 and older are asked to take tests, reports BBC. So far, Britain has identified 105 cases in all of the variant, called B.1.351.
The latest development came after 11 cases were detected with the strain; however there was no clear evidence of they having travelled to South Africa, which raises fears of local community transmission.
At a virtual Downing Street news conference on Monday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: "It is vital that we do all we can to stop transmission of this variant and I strongly urge everyone in these areas to get tested, whether you have symptoms or not.
"The best way to stop the spread of the virus, including new variants, is to stay at home and follow the restrictions in place.
"Until more people are vaccinated this is the only way we will control the spread of the virus." The key prevention means he emphasised, is to minimise all social contact.
The emergence of the new variant was a "stark reminder the fight against this virus is not over yet" and that now was "no time to let things slip", the Health Secretary added.
Meanwhile, there was still no evidence that the South African variant causes more serious illness, like the B.1.1.7 strain which was originally detected late last year in Britain.
(With input from IANS)