A SINGLE case of the South African variant of Covid-19 has been identified in Bramley with mass testing starting this week.

Anyone aged 16 or over in the Hampshire village, just outside of Basingstoke, will be subjected to surge testing.

Concerns have been raised by health officials that the mutation can spread faster and vaccines may not be as effective.

Those living in postcodes starting with RG26 will be invited to take a Covid test this week.

As of February 8, cases in Bramley, Sherfield and the Sherbornes were down week-on-week with just nine new cases of Covid recorded compared to 14. This puts the village's rolling rate at 95.3, well below England's national average.

On Monday, residents appeared calm about the testing. Nicola Cleevely, 45, told The Gazette: “We’ve been told the risk of transmission is very low.”

The 45-year-old will be receiving a door-to-door test shortly. She said: "I think [surge testing] is brilliant, it's going to be dropped off and picked up."

Kam Muneer, shift manager at One Stop on Sherfield Road, said: "We have had a couple of people mentioning it to us. People are a bit scared but also relieved as well because they know what is going on. It’s almost like being a step ahead in that sense, they know what’s happening and are looking forward to the testing."

“Two of the girls we work with live locally and they were saying that this area, where the shop is, comes under the testing as well so hopefully that will include us. I have already had three negative tests, for my peace of mind, as it can get very busy in here.

He added: "Luckily, people generally wear their masks. Most people are local. If we get someone new I will ask them to wear it. Especially now I feel it’s important to be careful.

“With the South African variant, we don’t know really how dangerous it is so I will be doing some research.”

Meanwhile Bramley resident Shannon Davies, 23, praised villagers for sticking to the rules, saying: “People are very good at wearing their masks here.”

Chloe Davies, 25, added: "There is a community Facebook group we follow. The GP surgery posted in there so we knew what was happening with testing was legitimate.”

Simon Bryant, Hampshire County Council's director of public health, told The BBC: "I appreciate that this news may be worrying but it's really important to understand that the risk of transmission from this single case is considered to be very low."

He added that the rapid local testing programme was "primarily a precautionary measure" to help the government understand and prevent the spread of new variants.