In Ealing the COVID-19 infection numbers have gone up again in the last week worryingly passing the 1,000 cases per 100,000 of population mark for the first time, says council leader Julian Bell in his latest video update (above). For the week ending 10 January the rate in our borough is 1,072.5 per 100,000, a 10.3% increase, putting us 5th highest compared to other London boroughs. With admissions to local hospitals rising and COVID-19 related deaths in Ealing sadly showing a marked increase in the new year we all need to follow the advice to stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives.
Professor Kevin Fenton, the London Regional Director for Public Health England, has today described the level of transmission in the capital as ‘severe’ with 10,000 Londoners being infected every day during the last week.
I am grateful that a very large number of places of worship in the borough have responded positively to my request last week to consider voluntarily closing as we work through this very difficult period.
It remains vitally important that any resident who experiences any of the symptoms of COVID-19 that they immediately book a test and self-isolate until they receive the result. There remains good capacity for testing at the borough’s symptomatic testing sites at Michael Flanders Centre in Acton, Featherstone Terrace Car Park in Southall and at Gurnell Leisure Centre.
This week, the council has opened six testing centres for residents who are not showing symptoms of the virus to get rapid tests. These are located in Acton, Ealing, Greenford, Northolt and Southall. Residents can book tests via the council’s Coronavirus information page www.ealing.gov.uk/coronavirus.
We are particularly encouraging those who are unable to work from home – such as key workers in health, social care and education, construction, retail or transport – to get tested frequently, ideally twice a week, so that asymptomatic cases can be quickly identified and isolated. We are also very keen that asymptomatic testing is taken up in those areas with the highest numbers of infections – Acton, Southall and Northolt. There is plenty of capacity at all six sites.
The vaccination programme for residents continues to be delivered primarily through the two centres in Ealing and Southall, using the Pfizer vaccine. To date, around 7,500 Ealing residents have received at least the first dose of the vaccine, including more than a third of the borough’s over 80s.
The number of vaccinations being undertaken remains constrained by supply of vaccines, which is currently determined centrally. We expect a significant increase in the availability of vaccinations next week, including the first doses of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine for the borough. This vaccine is more easily transportable and storable, and will enable the use of community pharmacies to provide vaccinations, which we also expect to start in the borough next week.
Vaccinations are progressing well in nursing homes, which we expect to be completed today, and older peoples’ care homes, which are due to be completed over the weekend.
The message remains that you should wait to be contacted by your GP regarding an appointment for a vaccination and should not turn up at vaccination centres without an appointment.
We are working closely with NHS partners in North West London to ensure that Ealing has sufficient capacity for the mass vaccination stage of the programme.
The Ealing Together phone line continues to support residents who are vulnerable or shielding during the lockdown, on 020 8825 7170 (Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm). Ealing Together can help shielding residents to access priority slots for supermarket deliveries, put residents in touch with local volunteers who can collect food shopping that the resident has paid for, or provide support for those who are struggling financially and cannot pay for food.
There have been no significant changes to services since my last message. All libraries, leisure centres and community centres remain closed. All schools in the borough remain closed except for vulnerable children and the children of key workers. Waste and recycling collections continue as normal and the recycling centres remain open.
Can I thank all our health, care and key workers including all our frontline council staff for the brilliant work that they are doing during this incredibly difficult time. Can I please ask you to help them by following the rules. Please stay home, protect the NHS and save lives.