With COVID-19 cases on the increase in 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, 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. Havering Council expects the site to be in use for up to six months. The car park will be out of use from today, Friday 11 September, 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 12 September between 2pm and 5pm. On Sunday 13 September the site will be available from 10am to 5pm and from Monday 14 September onwards it will be open seven days a week between 8am and 8pm.
The Council is working with NHS Test and Trace to put a second site in the north of the borough later in September.
The location of the sites does not indicate that cases are increasing more in those areas. Cases are increasing right across the borough.
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 smart phone with them so they can register when they arrive.
The site is easily accessible without a car. 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 in England 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.
“Follow the guidance on washing hands, social distancing and wearing masks. You must get a test if you experience even mild symptoms of a high temperature, new continuous cough or loss of sense of taste or smell.
“If there is any good news, it is that we are not seeing more people becoming desperately ill, but that could change if we don’t get those new case numbers down quickly.
“It’s up to us all to protect our families, friends and neighbours and to do our bit to keep Havering safe.”
Councillor Damian White, Leader of Havering 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.
“Our cases – like those in many other places across the country including nearby boroughs – are increasing. Our actions have included asking the Government for more testing facilities and it’s good news that our request for more testing in Havering means a site in South Hornchurch will be open for use from this weekend and we are planning for a further site in Harold Hill to open in coming weeks.
“Wear face coverings when being tested and if you cannot wear a face covering to go to the site, you will need to ask for a home test. Don’t travel to the sites by public transport or taxi.
“Throughout this crisis Havering has shown so much resilience, civic pride and community spirit. I know we can do it again. We must do everything possible to avoid the impact of more restrictions which could damage our high streets and local businesses, stop us seeing friends and family and put our children’s education at risk again. Let’s all do our bit to keep this virus at bay in our borough.”
How can I do my bit?
Stick to the following key advice:
- The main symptoms of coronavirus are: a high temperature, a new, continuous cough and a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste. Most people with coronavirus have at least 1 of these symptoms.
- If you have COVID-19 symptoms, get a test. It’s really important that anyone with COVID-19 symptoms can get a test. This will help us stop the spread of the virus. If you don’t have COVID-19 symptoms and you are trying to book a test, do not come forwards for a test – you could be taking a test away from someone who really needs it. This is increasingly important as we head into autumn and winter and more people will get colds and the flu. Only book a test if you have one of the 3 symptoms.
- If someone in your household starts to have symptoms, then that person must get tested and the rest of the household should self-isolate with them whilst they wait for the results. If you or other members of the household don’t have symptoms, then you should not get a test – only people with symptoms should get tested. The vast majority of people who are tested in person get their results the very next day. Full guidance on self-isolation is available on gov.uk.
- If you are self-isolating or in quarantine, then a negative test result does not mean you can end isolation early. The virus can take time to develop and so a test early on does not prove that you won’t go on to develop the virus. That means you could still be at risk of spreading the disease to other people.
- If you have symptoms and need to book a test, you can do this online or by ringing 119. We have been seeing more people trying to ring 111 about testing but we need to make sure that 111 is protected for people who are ringing about other medical and health issues.
- Keep a safe distance from others.
- Wash your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds.
- Wear a face covering over your mouth and nose on public transport and in indoor areas such as shops, places of worship, hairdressers, libraries and healthcare settings.
For information about outbreak planning and the Council’s response to COVID-19, visit: www.havering.gov.uk/covid19
For more information about #DoingMyBit, visit: www.havering.gov.uk/doingmybit