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Covid test centre opens at Shadwell’s Watney Market after government is lobbied by Tower Hamlets Council

PUBLISHED: 15:00 18 September 2020 | UPDATED: 16:27 18 September 2020

A person being  tested for covid.  Picture: PA/Wire

A person being tested for covid. Picture: PA/Wire

PA/Wire

A new government Covid-19 public test centre has opened today in east London (September 18) after lobbying by the local authority to help increase testing facilities for those who can’t travel.

The testing centre at Watney Market idea store in Commercial Road... by appointment. Picture: GoogleThe testing centre at Watney Market idea store in Commercial Road... by appointment. Picture: Google

It has been set up at Watney Market’s Idea Store library building in the Commercial Road within walking distance for people living in Stepney, Shadwell, Whitechapel and Wapping, offering testing by appointment.

Anyone with Covid-19 symptoms such as high temperature, new or continuous cough or a loss or change to their normal sense of smell or taste is being advised to make an appointment online (nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19) or to phone 119.

The new centre follows a campaign by Tower Hamlets Council to improve Covid testing, first revealed in the East London Advertiser earlier this month when a second spike in the East End was reported.

A four-fold increase in Coronavirus cases in August was recorded, with 131 notified by Tower Hamlets NHS compared to just 37 in June.

Mayor John Biggs... lobbied Secretary of State Mayor John Biggs... lobbied Secretary of State "to make sure we have adequate tests for our people as we are a far cry from the world-beating testing pledge". Picture: Mike Brooke

“The national testing programme is experiencing capacity issues at present,” mayor John Biggs warned.

“I have lobbied the Secretary of State to make sure we have adequate numbers of tests for our people as we are a far cry from the government’s pledge for a ‘world-beating’ testing system.”

The new testing station at Watney Market idea store at 260 Commercial Road aims to cater for those who can’t travel to get a test, making it easier to access testing closer to home. Tests are available to anyone with symptoms, with reserved times for vulnerable groups such as the very elderly and those with disabilities.

The council is urging anyone with Covid-19 symptoms who has an appointment at the Watney Market centre not to go by public transport or taxi and to wear a face covering and keep a safe distance from others.

Within walking distance... Covid centre at Watney Market for those living around Shadwell, Wapping, Stepney or Whitechapel who can't travel to get tests. Picture: Mike BrookeWithin walking distance... Covid centre at Watney Market for those living around Shadwell, Wapping, Stepney or Whitechapel who can't travel to get tests. Picture: Mike Brooke

Deputy Mayor Rachel Blake, cabinet member for public health, said: “It’s vital that this new centre adds much-needed testing capacity. Our plans to keep schools and public services open rely on an effective testing system.”

General public advice is to wash hands regularly for at least 20 seconds with soap or use hand sanitiser, wear a face covering on public transport, in shops and other enclosed areas, keep a safe distance from others outside your home and stick to the government rule of six people maximum in any social gathering with other households indoors or outdoors, including private homes.

Anyone testing positive is being told to self-isolate at home for 10 days from when symptoms start, including those waiting to arrange a test.

People identified as having had a close or recent contact with someone who has tested positive through NHS Test and Trace are also being advised to self-isolate.

Opening hours at the Watney Idea Store Covid test unit at 260 Commercial Road are Friday (Sept-18) 2-5pm and Saturday 10am-5pm, then Sunday onwards all day 8am-8pm.

A mobile testing unit continues near Canary Wharf with appointments online or calling 119. Work continues, meanwhile, to find more locations where local testing units can be set up.


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