Results of targeted tests to track the South African variant of Covid in England could take up to two weeks, public health officials have warned.
All positive results must be sent for genome sequencing to identify the variant in a process that typically takes about fourteen days.
Delays are significant for those affected as officials have asked people to stay at home if not strictly necessary.
However, Public Health England said the latest tests, which were conducted in a number of areas of England this week, are being prioritized to speed up the process.
Door-to-door wiping tests for 80,000 people were introduced after 11 cases of the variant were found in people with no connection to travel in recent days.
Tests of around 10,000 people in the Maidstone area of Kent, which began on Tuesday, were completed on Thursday evening.
Testing at Woking, Surrey should be completed today, Friday 5th February.
Sefton Council officials said efforts to identify the variant in the Norwood area of Southport in Merseyside would continue through the weekend.
In Hertfordshire, the tests at Broxbourne will continue for a further week until February 12, the council said.
Hundreds of test kits were being dispensed in Tottenham, north London, when the test rollout began there on Thursday and will continue until next week, a Haringey Council spokesman said.
The official said “the feedback from residents has been very positive”.
In a webinar by the West Midlands Combined Authority on Friday, it was announced that around 10,300 people have been tested in Walsall so far.
Around 560 tests were carried out in the affected areas in Birmingham. Additional capacities were added in a two-week test campaign.
Mobile test units and home test kits were also deployed in Hanwell (West London) and Mitcham (South London) this week.