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How locking down streets could stop new Covid variants

Localised restrictions may be ‘most effective measure possible’ for stopping outbreaks

Locking down individual streets could be an important step in preventing the emergence of new variants of Covid-19, a leading expert has said.

Dr Jeffrey Barrett, director of the Covid-19 Genomics Initiative at the Wellcome Sanger Institute, said it’s important the government deploys “the most effective measures possible” to stem further outbreaks.

Appearing on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Dr Barrett said that shutting down streets “certainly could” have an impact, adding: “One of the trickiest parts of this virus overall is… some individuals who are infected don’t have symptoms and so they can transmit.

“Trying to use interventions that might stop asymptomatic transmission may well be an important part of keeping outbreaks of these new variants to be as absolutely small as possible.” 

The Sun reports that “extreme measures” could be on the agenda after “more than half a million adults in south London” were offered Covid PCR tests amid a small outbreak of the South Africa variant

A separate case was also discovered in Barnet, north London, yesterday, however the Department of Health told the paper that it was “unrelated to other clusters” and “had been isolated and the person’s contacts traced”.

Because there is a “chance” that emerging variants will be “less well neutralised” by vaccines, “it’s really important to be able to try to keep that number as close to zero as possible”, says Dr Barrett, The Telegraph reports.

“As the restrictions are lifted the key thing to watch will be, does that number ever go up sort of week by week,” he said. “And if so it’s really important to deploy the most effective measures possible to contain those outbreaks.”

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