- Covid-19 testing centre in New Addington ‘is a health hazard’ claims one councillor
- Two more fatalities bring the coronavirus death toll in Croydon since March to 500
- ‘We all have to do a bit more’ to keep our communities safe, says borough health chief
Council officials are already preparing for the borough to be moved to “Very High”, the top tier of the government’s covid-19 alert levels, Janet Campbell told the latest Town Hall Cabinet meeting.
Campbell, a councillor for West Thornton ward, is the cabinet member for families, health and social care, and was responding to a brief presentation on the latest coronavirus situation in the borough from Rachel Flowers, the council’s director of public health.
Together with the rest of London, Croydon was placed in Tier 2 – “High” – by the government at midnight on Friday.
In her presentation, Flowers told councillors that the change in lockdown status means that, “Because we’re seeing more transmissions across London, we all have to do a bit more”, stressing the need for people to wash their hands frequently, wear masks in enclosed public places and to keep a two-metre distance from others.
According to Flowers, the number of positive cases within Croydon is rising, with an incidence rate of 75 per 100,000 of population (“relatively low compared to the rest of London”, Flowers said), and an R rate of more than 1.0. “There are positive cases in every part of the borough,” she said.
Flowers said that on Monday, there had been 48 positive cases reported, with 11 people in hospital because of the virus, though none were being treated in intensive care (the number of positive cases reported yesterday in Croydon, according to official figures, was 50).
Over the previous week, two people in Croydon had died due to covid-related illness, bringing the total of fatalities linked to coronavirus in the borough since March to more than 500.
The number of cases was doubling every two to three weeks, Flowers said. “We are in the second wave of the pandemic.”
Campbell told her Cabinet colleagues that the council’s civic emergency Gold committee was now meeting twice weekly, “as we anticipate our move to Tier Three”.
She used the meeting to stress the need for BAME – black, Asian and minority ethnic – residents to seek medical advice and treatment promptly, as the experience of the first lockdown had been that “members of the BAME community present late”.
Flowers also told the meeting that “I did not choose the site”, when she was questioned about the wisdom, or lack of it, of positioning a covid-19 test centre in the middle of the shopping area of New Addington and close to the leisure centre.
One councillor described the site choice as “a health hazard”, that had caused New Addington residents serious concerns as people with suspected covid-19 symptoms arrived for a test, mingling with shoppers and those using the council-owned gym and pool.
According to Flowers it was the government’s contractors, Deloittes, who decided that the centre of New Addington was a suitable place for a testing centre. Flowers apologised for the situation to the residents of New Addington: “I’m sorry. There’s definitely some lessons we have learned.”
She said that 75 per cent of those being tested at the New Addington centre were Croydon residents.
Flowers suggested that she would like at least four testing centres around the borough, and that the occasional pop-up drive-through test centre at the Fairfield Halls was not adequate for the borough. “Testing and tracing will keep our community safe,” she said.
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