London moves into high tier due to increasing number of coronavirus cases
As you will have seen announced in Parliament today, from midnight on Friday London will be in the ‘high’ level of restrictions due to the increasing numbers of coronavirus cases across the capital. In Hackney coronavirus cases in the second week of October were 360, this is up from 187 the week before. Hackney now has the third highest number of positive cases in London.
This is a very difficult time for everyone, especially as only a month ago it looked as if life was starting to return to normal, however the virus is still with us and it’s absolutely vital - now more than ever - that we all do everything we can to keep London safe. We must all follow the guidelines and remember; hands, face, space.
I welcome the Government's new restrictions, however I am calling on the Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Health to not to waste this opportunity. These new restrictions will give the Government the space it needs to work with us, wider local government and the NHS to fix test and trace and ensure it is running correctly. This must be done so we can prevent the need for more draconian measures in the future that could have a severe economic impact and wider impact on health and wellbeing. Hackney was one of the first London boroughs to start local test and tracing using Council staff, but we can and must be supported to do more. Alongside this I am asking that that Government:
- Create a comprehensive isolation package: So all of those who need to self isolate because of contact tracing or coronavirus symptoms are able to and do not needlessly fall into hardship.
- Give further support for businesses: We have been disappointed with the level of support on offer to our business, there is very little economic support announced for those affected by Tier 2 and those sectors that will be hardest hit. In London, the government also needs to listen to us on the £51k business rate threshold - this doesn’t work in Hackney and fails to offer support to so many local and small businesses.
- Fix the national test and trace system: From the start, local public health teams should have led on contact tracing. But for the moment, the Government is the one with the resources and systems set up now for large scale contact tracing. Though we are doing all we can to support this locally, time is now short and this needs to be fixed centrally so we can keep Hackney safe and allow local people to get back to doing the things they love, like seeing their friends and family and returning to local businesses with confidence.
- Turnaround time for testing also needs to improve so that people’s contacts can be identified and notified more quickly, we call on the Government to reintroduce walk in testing without an appointment and trial the 20 minute test kits in Hackney to help us identify cases quicker.
- Finance Local Government: Council’s have the local expertise to support our residents and businesses and keep our populations healthy, and have already proven how we have been able to do this throughout this crisis. As the pandemic carries on I am calling for the same level of resourcing for our test and trace work as some private companies have been getting so we can continue this support to our residents.
I am proud of what we have achieved for local people over the last seven months of this pandemic, including setting up localized contact tracing to support the national system, working with the government to set up four testing sites in Hackney, setting up a coronavirus helpline, providing over 15,000 food packages, visiting 2,000 businesses to help them become Covid safe, having regular meetings with our partners in the police, health and community and voluntary sector to make sure people do not fall through the net in terms of support.
We have worked together as residents, businesses and as a Council to keep people safe and well. There is still more to go, the more we stick to the guidance, the quicker we will be out of this pandemic. So please get a test if you have symptoms, and self isolate if you are asked to by a contact tracer. Let’s work together to keep Hackney safe.
I understand that this coronavirus crisis has hit us all hard and now, seven months in, we are sadly seeing cases rising again across London.
At the time of writing this, rates in Hackney are among the highest in the capital. That is why I welcome the government's announcement to move London into the high tier of coronavirus local restrictions, the rules of which are here.
I am deeply worried about the health of the people of Hackney, and I am asking everyone to do everything they can to work together and keep Hackney safe. That means following the rules set out in the guidance that include following:
Hands: Keep washing your hands regularly or using hand sanitizer
Face: Cover your face, wear a face covering in enclosed spaces
Space: Stay at least two metres apart - or at least one metre with a face covering or other precautions
And only meeting with your own household or support bubble indoors and up to 6 other people outdoors
Alongside this if you do develop symptoms of coronavirus such as a new, continuous cough or loss or change to your sense of smell or taste, even mildly, please isolate yourself from other people for 10 days and get a test as soon as possible. You can order a home test, or visit one of the 4 test centres in Hackney by calling 119, using the NHS COVID-19 app or booking an appointment online. Also if you are asked to self isolate by NHS Test and Trace you must do so.
I want to say to all our residents in Hackney, keep up the good work in your mask wearing and social distancing, but there is still more to do. We still all need to work together to prevent the virus from spreading in the community to keep Hackney safe and keep the City safe, too.
If you have coronavirus symptoms, even mild ones, please isolate yourself from other people for 10 days and get a test. If you are asked to self isolate, regardless of symptoms, you must do so to keep from possibly passing it onto others. You can book a test online by downloading the NHS COVID-19 app, or calling 119.
Coronavirus symptoms are:
- A high temperature
- A new, continuous cough
- A loss or change to your sense of smell or taste