Mayor John Biggs and Deputy Mayor Councillor Rachel Blake have written to the Health Secretary Matt Hancock MP about the government’s failure to provide adequate Covid-19 tests for residents in Tower Hamlets.
The government promised a ‘world-beating’ Test and Trace programme so that if people show symptoms of COVID-19 they can be tested as soon as possible. However, residents have reported problems booking a test and Tower Hamlets currently has the 30th lowest testing rate across London boroughs.
They call for the government to urgently step in as COVID-19 cases are rising again. In the letter the Mayor says ‘this is obviously a vital moment for our community as schools and workplaces have re-opened the government knew that it would mean additional demand which would need to be backed up with a robust testing procedure’.
In the letter they raise concerns about the impact on keyworkers and the fact that with data showing COVID-19 has a disproportionate impact on Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic residents, they are particularly concerned about the lack of testing on the diverse community they represent.
A government-run testing centre opened in Watney Market Ideas Store on Friday (18th) which requires visitors to book an appointment for. The new centre follows a campaign by the Mayor to improve Covid testing but the letter asks for further steps to boost testing capacity. Residents are advised to continue to try and book a test if they show symptoms and follow government guidelines to self-isolate.
Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs said: “We know that residents are trying to do the right thing and get tested if they show symptoms of COVID-19 but the government has not delivered on its promise of a ‘world-beating’ system. We’ll continue to lobby government to provide adequate testing for our residents as it’s absolutely vital this is addressed so we can control the spread of the virus and protect our community.”
Cllr Rachel Blake, Deputy Mayor and Cabinet Member for Adults, Health and Wellbeing said: “We need the government to step up and urgently fix this testing fiasco. We’ll continue to work with the Department for Health to identify test centres in the borough but it’s essential that the government steps up so that we have a fit for purpose Test and Trace system so people can book a test quickly, locally and get the results back quickly.”