Before I talk about the increasing COVID-19 infection rates in London, I want to begin this message by sending my deepest and sincerest condolences to the family, colleagues and friends of the police officer who was so tragically killed today in Croydon, says council leader Julian Bell in his latest coronavirus update video message (above). I’m sure I speak for everyone in Ealing.
We have just heard that London has been designated as an area of concern on the government’s COVID-19 watchlist.
This is because of ongoing concerns about rising infection rates across the city.
Earlier this week, I met with the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and other London council leaders to hear from professor Kevin Fenton of Public Health London about the evidence that shows infection rates are much higher than the testing data is showing.
Because testing capacity is not sufficient and people are not always able to get tests, the testing data is seriously undercounting the number of new COVID-19 cases in Ealing and across London.
In Ealing this week, the number of new COVID-19 cases in the seven days up to 20 September, 92, that is 26.9 per 100,000 people. Now, that is slightly below the number of cases that we had last week (that was just below 30 per 100,000 of population). But, clearly, those figures are not telling the real picture.
Professor Fenton talked about increased hospital admissions, increased NHS 111 and GP consultations for people experiencing COVID symptoms and we also know that the R rate is also increasing.
All these figures show that cases are rising rapidly. In fact, they appear to be increasing exponentially.
We need the government to urgently make more testing capacity available for Ealing residents and London, and I believe that that is beginning to happen. And if you do get symptoms, please get a test and isolate.
We’ve had the new measures announced this week by the Prime Minister and they will help, but only if people follow them.
People need to wear face coverings, obey social distancing rules much better, avoid unnecessary journeys and work from home where possible.
Also, this week we have seen the launch of the new NHS COVID-19 app. Please download it and start using it.
And remember: Hand, Face and Space; and the ‘rule of six’. Make sure we are washing our hands, covering our face and keeping those social distance rules. And only meet in a maximum group of six people, whether inside or outside of our homes.
Now, being a designated area of concern does not mean at this stage that there will be any additional measures to the ones that have been implemented this week or that we are about to go into a local lockdown.
But, all that could indeed happen if we don’t do everything we can to stop the spread of the virus.
So, let’s all work together to keep Ealing and London safe.