New coronavirus testing facility opens as Havering residents are urged to take action with cases rising in the borough

With COVID-19 cases on the increase, Havering Council bosses have warned that the borough faces government-enforced restrictions unless everyone in the borough “does their bit” to battle the pandemic.

The number of new cases each week trebled during August and new cases in Havering are now higher than both the London and England average.

The council has been monitoring the increase and, as part of its response, the Government has agreed to the council’s request that a new walk-through coronavirus testing facility should open in the borough.

The test centre is at the council-owned Cherry Tree Lane car park off Rainham Road in South Hornchurch. The council expects the site to be in use for up to six months.

The car park will be out of use for as long as the site is needed. Residents who need to access parking to use local shops in South Hornchurch can use the limited number of spaces at the rear of South Hornchurch library off Nelson Road.

This is in addition to the Government testing centre at the rear of the Town Hall in Romford every third day.

Testing at the new site will start on Saturday September 12 from 2-5pm. On Sunday September 13, the site will be available from 10am – 5pm and from Monday September 14 onwards it will be open seven days a week from 8am to 8pm.

The council is working with NHS Test and Trace to put a second site in the north of the borough later in September.

How to get a test at the new sites

Anyone with coronavirus symptoms, however mild, can get a free swab test that takes less than a minute. Tests should be booked or ordered as soon as symptoms begin at nhs.uk/coronavirus or by calling 119. Results should be back by the next day after testing.

Residents in need of a test can also walk in for a test without an appointment, but there is no guarantee they’ll be seen if the site is busy that day, so booking is best. Residents who walk in without an appointment will also need to bring a smartphone with them so they can register when they arrive.

Those being tested must follow public health measures, including social distancing, not travelling by taxi or public transport, practising good personal hygiene and wearing a face covering throughout (including travelling to and from the testing centre).

Anyone testing positive for the virus will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace to help them track their contacts. This will help people to identify who they may have been in close contact with, protecting others from further transmission.

Close contacts of those testing positive will also hear from NHS Test and Trace, advising them to stay at home for 14 days to prevent them from unknowingly spreading the virus. They will be advised to also book a test if they develop symptoms.

The council will also continue with its public health campaign, ‘#DoingMyBit’ to remind people of the actions they must take to keep themselves and our communities safe.

Havering Council’s director of public health, Mark Ansell, said: “This is now urgent. New COVID-19 cases in Havering are going up and will continue to do so if we don’t take action now. If we cannot bring down those numbers, vulnerable people will be at risk of serious illness and death and more severe restrictions will be necessary, including the prospect of ‘lockdowns’, perhaps as soon as October.

“This is serious, this is real and it is happening now. Nobody wants to see further restrictions on life in Havering and we are doing absolutely everything within our power to avoid that happening.”

Councillor Damian White, leader of the council, said: “This is a crucial moment in our collective efforts to control the spread of the virus in Havering and to keep ourselves and those we love safe.

“Even if you don’t feel worried about the health risks of the virus on you, you could unwittingly be passing COVID-19 on to parents, grandparents and other people who are at far greater risk of dying or becoming seriously ill from the virus than you are.

“Don’t take the risk of that being on your conscience.”

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Mick Ferris

Editor Email: [email protected]