COVID-19 has hit our communities hard and it is clear that it has not left us. We are still in the middle of the biggest health and economic crisis in over 70 years.

You will have noted from the press and social media that the number of cases being reported across the country are rising and local lockdowns are being introduced. The rates are going up in Harrow, currently at 28 people per 100,000 residents testing positive, although in some wards it is over 40. To put this number into context, in Bolton the rate is 204 people per 100,000 residents, which is why they have increased restrictions in place.

We are at the level where we can request further support and testing capability, and this is what we have done. We also don’t want to discourage any resident from taking tests.

But, quite frankly, the facts remain that the testing regime in place is a shambles, with the lack of capacity in the laboratories undermining the whole testing process. The Government has made reductions on the number of tests available nationally so that the whole system would not be overwhelmed. Yet many results are taking 4 or 5 days to come through – putting many families into paralysis on their day to day employment or schooling.

With Harrow being at Level 2 – Area of enhanced support – our teams have been working hard to increase testing capacity in Harrow, as a result, we will see a mobile testing unit return to Harrow more frequently and we will see additional sites in the borough where the units become available.

As at the 12th September, 2,490 tests were undertaken in Harrow over the previous 14 days, which identified 112 positive cases. The team are continually looking to identify local outbreaks – i.e. a care home, a school or even a business – and they may be locked down to stop any further spread. We are also working across Health partners to increase the testing in Harrow, especially in care homes and vulnerable residents. With the acceleration of infections across the country, with large areas under increased lockdown, we have developed plans across London Boroughs if that is required here.

To be quite frank, I am extremely concerned by the latest evidence I’ve seen over the past few days from public health experts about the accelerating speed at which Covid-19 is now spreading across London, which has been made worse by the uncertainty caused by the lack of testing capacity in the capital. It is increasingly likely that additional measures will soon be required to slow the spread of the virus. I fervently believe that we should not wait, as happened six months ago, for this virus to again spiral out of control before taking action.

The message I have continually put out as Leader of Harrow Council on behalf of the Labour Group is that residents and businesses must maintain and extend the behaviour patterns that has reduced the infections in Harrow. If we are to keep our vulnerable residents safe we must all follow the public health guidance – strictly follow social distancing rules, regularly wash your hands and wear a face covering to help reduce the spread of the virus.

The detail of how the council is responding and what we will do if cases continue to rise is available at:-

The report sets out how the council will reach out further to the community to raise awareness and importance of test and trace, using PPE and face masks, identifying the symptoms and when to get tested. It sets out the individual responsibilities of residents and businesses if we are to contain the virus and also how the council will respond to local or major outbreaks.

We will be sending out regular information and please do pass it on to your friends, families and communities – together we can make the difference and keep Harrow safe

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