As you may have seen in the media, says Julian Bell, leader of Ealing Council in his latest video (above), residents are being asked to get tested over the next month to help drive down the borough’s COVID-19 rates and identify people with the South African variant, after a small number of people have tested positive for the South African variant in Acton, Greenford, Southall and West Ealing.
There is no evidence that the South African strain of the virus causes more severe illness or that the approved vaccines will not protect against its worst affects.
Vaccination provides the best protection from COVID-19 and residents are urged to get vaccinated as soon as they are offered it. So far we have vaccinated over 62,000 vulnerable residents in the borough and we are increasing capacity to vaccinate even more people as we go through the priority groups.
Although the borough’s COVID-19 rates have dropped significantly in recent weeks, rates remain high in parts of the borough. For the week ending 21 February we have 128 cases per 100,000 of population – the third highest in London.
People who took part in the Hanwell and West Ealing surge testing programme can take a further test if they wish to.
Anyone working outside of the home is recommended to take a test at one of the council’s walk-up community test sites for people without symptoms twice a week. You no longer need an appointment – residents can walk in for a test seven days a week, 9am-4.20pm.
There will also be pop-up testing centres deployed in areas of high footfall and additional symptomatic testing sites at Dormers Wells and Northolt leisure centres to add to the three we already have at Gurnell Leisure Centre, Featherstone Terrace car park, Southall, and Michael Flanders centre in Acton.
High school children returning to school will also take rapid tests as part of the arrangement to get children back to school on (Monday) 8 March.
People who have had the vaccine should still take a test. People who are clinically extremely vulnerable are advised not to leave home for the test but if they have symptoms, to order a home test kit at NHS.gov or by calling 119.
Support is available
The council and local partners continue to provide essential support, including food where required, to vulnerable residents through its Ealing Together partnership. People wishing to contact Ealing Together should call 020 8825 7170.
People on low incomes may be eligible to claim a self-isolation payment of £500 following a positive test. You can find more about who is eligible to apply at www.ealing.gov.uk/coronavirus. We did ask the government for a more generous self isolation payment in line with furlough payments as part of this second phase of surge testing for the South African variant but they refused.
New business grants
The council is now inviting Ealing businesses to apply for a range of grants from a pot of £6.2million. Three grant schemes are targeted at businesses who have been severely impacted by the downturn in the aviation sector and its vast network of supply chain businesses, the creative, digital and cultural economy and a COVID hardship scheme. Unlike previous grants, they are now open to home-based businesses, freelancers, self-employed individuals, sole traders and limited company directors that we know comprise a huge part of our economy and continue to suffer hardship due to restrictions. You can read more about the schemes on the council website coronavirus business support page.
Also today (Friday, 26 February), we go live on the consultation of the council’s draft plan for economic recovery and renewal – called ‘the Greenprint’. Please take a look at it on the same business coronavirus support page on our website and give us your feedback.
Remember to continue to follow the lockdown rules but if you do leave home please get a test. Thank you