Sports centres in South Norwood are being turned into emergency coronavirus medical facilities.
A hospitality suite at Crystal Palace FC’s Selhurst Park stadium has been adapted into one of London’s biggest covid-19 vaccination venues, playing a pivotal role in vaccinating eligible local residents alongside health and care staff.
The move comes just days after a coronavirus testing centre was established in the car park area of Croydon Arena, off Albert Road. It is the second testing centre to be set-up in the borough, alongside a similar facility that opened in New Addington in September.
At Crystal Palace, NHS staff and volunteers have taken over the Glaziers Lounge in the Main Stand, which has been adapted to deliver the vaccine safely and efficiently while maintaining social distancing.
Vaccinations will only be issued to those who have received their NHS vaccination invite, and the centre will operate by appointment only. People with appointments are asked not to arrive too far in advance of their booked slot to ensure that queues can be kept to a minimum.
“Delivering the vaccine to our local community is imperative if we are to help people return to their lives,” said Steve Parish, the Crystal Palace chairman. “We are proud that Selhurst Park is playing an important role in aiding the NHS with the launch of this vaccination centre.”
Dr Agnelo Fernandes, the lead GP for Croydon who has now overseen the opening of seven vaccination centres in the borough, said: “Our teams have put in a mammoth effort to get this vaccination centre up and running, and we’re incredibly grateful for the facilities and time provided by Crystal Palace Football Club to ensure it is a success.
“The covid-19 vaccines are safe and effective and the good news is that the number of local people being vaccinated is going up, but there is still much to do to ensure as many people as possible are protected against the disease. The NHS will contact you when it is your turn to get the jab.
“Whether you have had a vaccine or not, it is really important to continue to follow government guidance and to keep your distance – that means sticking to the ‘hands, face, space’ advice.”
On the other side of South Norwood Country Park, a new testing centre has been fully operational since Saturday in the Croydon Arena car park.
It is open from 9am to 8pm seven days a week. It operates on an appointment-only basis – tests must be booked in advance, online or by phoning 119. Those attending the testing centre are asked not to use public transport or cars, but to walk or use a bicycle.
Local testing centres are part of the National Test and Trace Programme for covid-19, operated by Deloitte on behalf of the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC). As well as the New Addington testing centre, a site has also opened on Beddington Lane, and can carry out 1,800 tests per day.
According to Rachel Flowers, Croydon Council’s director of public health, the testing centres “are for people with any of the main covid-19 symptoms to get tested, which helps to identify cases and prevent the virus from spreading among our community”.
Those being tested will be required to follow Public Health measures, including social distancing, not travelling by taxi or public transport, going straight home after their test, practising good hygiene and wearing a face covering throughout (including travelling to and from the centre).
Flowers said, “Croydon Council will be working closely with Deloitte to ensure that any disruption is kept to a minimum. Deloitte will also work with our partners at Oasis Academy Arena and GLL to ensure that pupils, staff and visitors have safe access to the school and to Croydon Sports Arena at all times.”
Flowers said that anyone with concerns about the site operation can contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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