In his latest video message (above), council leader Julian Bell discusses a new local COVID-19 contact tracing team, a new walk-in testing centre and how the mass testing and vaccination programmes could be coming to Ealing. He also wishes everyone a happy Diwali.
Very sadly, we have seen the number of COVID deaths in the country go over 50,000 this week and I just wanted to put on record my sincerest condolences to anyone who has lost a loved one in Ealing and also in the rest of the country during this terrible pandemic.
We’ve started to see COVID deaths going up again. They are still low but we’ve had four COVID deaths registered at the council in the last week. We’re also seeing COVID cases, infections, going up again.
We’ve had a 27% increase in the last week, up to the 9 November we’ve had 233.8 cases per 100,000 of population. That’s back up to the rate that we had two weeks ago. In fact, it’s the highest rate that we’ve ever had, so there must be no complacency.
People really, really must do everything they can to follow the guidance and the rules: Stay at home as much as possible; if you have symptoms – a high temperature, new, continuous cough, loss of taste or smell – get a test and self-isolate.
We’ve got a new walk-in testing centre that’s just opened at Gurnell Leisure Centre to sit alongside the mobile testing unit in the car park there and also to add capacity to the walk-in centres that we’ve got at Michael Flanders Centre in Acton and the Featherstone Terrace car park in Southall. There is capacity locally for people to get a test so, please, do get a test and, if you’re positive, self-isolate. Even while you’ve got the symptoms, self-isolate and people in your household should as well.
Now, this week we’ve launched our own locally enhanced contact tracing team at the council to identify people who have come into contact with positive, infected people that have not been contacted by the national contact tracing system. We are trying to use our local contacts and community languages to make contact with these people to stop the spread of the virus. So, if you are contacted, please share your contacts with that contact tracing team.
We’ve also expressed interest in rolling out the government’s mass testing programme. It’s important given the rates of COVID cases in our borough that we do do that mass testing. There’s still issues about funding. I’ve been on a call with other council leaders and public health directors today, with Matt Hancock the Secretary of State, and the need for funding that mass testing was made very, very clear.
We’re also working with our NHS partners to roll out the mass vaccination programme: To the vulnerable at first, but to everybody when that vaccine becomes available. You’ve all heard the news that, hopefully, there will be an effective vaccine available very shortly. And we could, hopefully, be starting to roll that out before the end of the year.
Can I also wish everyone a very happy Diwali this weekend. It’s the festival of light, Diwali, where light overcomes darkness, hope overcomes despair and, certainly, that news about a vaccine being able to be rolled out is, to me, the light at the end of the tunnel that we need to, hopefully, get to. And, what I would say, is for everybody to be vigilant. If you’re celebrating Diwali, please celebrate at home, don’t mix your households and risk spreading that virus – killer virus – to your loved ones.
So, let’s hope that this is the light at the end of the tunnel, that we do get these mass testing and vaccination programmes here in the borough and that we can all move forward and keep our loved ones safe. Thank you.