Concern at Westminster residents without a car being unable to safely get to coronavirus test centre

By Julia Gregory, Local Democracy Reporter

Concerns have been raised about Westminster residents without cars being sent miles away for coronavirus tests.

Cllr Nafsika Butler-Thalassis said people can’t get to test centres in Tower Hamlets or Wembley if they are not allowed to use public transport or taxis because of the fear of passing the virus on.

According to the latest figures, 132 people have died of the virus in Westminster, with 1,128 positive cases overall in the borough.

Across London 6,208 people have died from coronavirus out of the 41,988 people who died within 28 days of testing positive.

Cllr Butler-Thalassis is Labour’s health spokeswoman and said she was concerned that some residents would have difficulty getting to a test centre.

Her concerns come as London was put on the government coronavirus watch list on Friday as cases are rising.

Between September 11 and 17 there was an average of 77 tests  per 100,000 people in Westminster – with a positive test rate of 15.7 per 100,000 people.

The borough has been designated an area of concern, with the 31 other boroughs plus the City of London.

Cllr Butler-Thalassis said: “When you go on the website to book a test, you have to say whether you have a car or not. If you don’t, you have to have either home testing kits or go to a walk-in testing centre.

She said: “Home testing kits seem to be in very short supply so you are frequently directed to walk-in centres which are many miles away but you are also told you should only get there by walking or cycling, not using public transport or getting a taxi.

“I think it makes perfect sense that you shouldn’t use a taxi or public transport if you have symptoms, but you also can’t expect people to walk four to six miles when they have symptoms. We just need more home testing kits and walk-in testing facilities in Westminster.”

The mobile testing centre will be making its regular visits to North Carriage Drive in Hyde Park between 10.30am and 3.30pm tomorrow and on Thursday, and again on October 6, 7, 15, 16, 21, 22, 27 and 28.

People are asked to only get tests if they have coronavirus symptoms which include a new persistent cough, temperature and loss of smell and taste. They should book on NHS 119 or online here.

The Department of Health has been approached for a comment.


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