Covid-19: New variants in Dalston, and surge testing, as lockdown eases

Covid-19 test kit. Pic: Annie Spratt

Young people in Shoreditch, Old Street and Great Eastern Street and parts of Dalston are being urged to take Covid tests in a bid to control the spread of the Indian variant while similar surge testing is taking place in Tower Hamlets.

Hackney Council yesterday praised those in affected areas for taking PCR tests but warned only one in six had been returned.

They said on Twitter: “So far there has been an amazing effort, with 12,825 PCR tests handed out, but only 1 in 6 have been sent back. Return your test within 24 hrs.”

The new extra testing came as lockdown restrictions started easing this week. Here is a round-up of what we know so far.


Coronavirus cases have been found within the borough of Hackney. Tara Hudson, from Hackney Press Office said: “25 cases of Corona virus were identified in Hackney last week. These cases have been contact traced and robust self- isolation has taken place.”

Recent coronavirus mutations have also been found in Hackney. The council said in a press release: “Two Covid-19 variants of concern, one first identified in South Africa and one first identified in India, have been found in areas of Shoreditch and Dalston.”

Hackney is currently testing people around areas that are most susceptible to coronavirus. The council said: “Hackney Council is now asking everyone over 16 who lives or works in affected areas to get a Covid-19 PCR test [tests that are sent to a lab to be checked], even if you do not have symptoms, to help stop the spread of these variants in the community.

“These areas are parts of Shoreditch, around Old Street and Great Eastern Street; and parts of Dalston town centre, around Dalston Lane and Kingsland High Street.”


Lewisham is not distributing surge tests, despite the fact that the borough recorded 60 cases of Coronavirus in the weak leading up to May 21. The borough also had a 19.9 case rate per 100,000 people on May 14, which is higher than the then London average of 19.4.

Tower Hamlets

Data from Public Heath England, reveals that Tower Hamlets has four cases of the variant from India and two cases of the variant from South Africa.

The borough has also had 68 coronavirus cases in the seven days leading up to May 19.

Tower Hamlets council has shed light on the current lack of knowledge surrounding new variants and why this makes testing important. The council said on their website: “These variants of concern are not more harmful but may be more easily spread or respond to current vaccines differently. Testing helps us learn more, as well as reduce or even stop their spread.”

The council is currently doing surge testing, in an attempt to ‘better understand variants’ and ‘monitor and supress the spread of coronavirus.’


Croydon had 108 cases of coronavirus in the week leading up to May 16, with a rate of 27.9 per 100, 000 people. The last recorded set of daily lab-confirmed cases was on May 16, where the borough identified 21 positive cases of coronavirus.

The borough has recently provided extra testing in New Addington and Fieldway, as well as South Norwood and Thornton Heath which has now been completed.

Croydon aims to use testing to further their knowledge of the coronavirus. Croydon council said on their website: “All positive COVID-19 tests from our extra testing will be sent for genomic sequencing. This will help us to understand the spread of COVID-19 variants locally.”

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