On-the-spot doorstep tests, home testing kits and mobile testing units will be deployed in eight areas, according to the BBC.
The health secretary, Matt Hancock, said he wanted to “come down hard” on the variant.
It follows fears that the more infectious version may be spreading in communities in England.
The enhanced testing programme aims to reach 80,000 people.
The health secretary said “finding every case” of the variant was the goal, with everyone over 16 in the targeted areas urged to take a test, whether they have symptoms or not.
Gene sequencing has so far uncovered 105 cases of the variant, which like the variant previously discovered in Kent is thought to be more contagious although not more deadly. Eleven of the cases of the South African variant had no link to foreign travel, prompting concerns it is spreading in the community.
Dr Susan Hopkins from Public Health England said the existing vaccines may offer less protection against the South African variant, although they still offer a good level of immunity.
The “surge testing” being deployed in the eight areas where the South Africa variant was detected will, however, offer the more accurate PCR tests to people who need to leave home for work or other essential purposes.
Image source: The Guardian