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Council leader calls on residents to be ‘good neighbours’ and work together to combat coronavirus spread

PUBLISHED: 16:00 18 March 2020 | UPDATED: 23:23 19 March 2020

Councillor Damian White, leader of Havering Council. Picture: Mark Sepple/Havering Council

Councillor Damian White, leader of Havering Council. Picture: Mark Sepple/Havering Council

Mark Sepple

Havering Council leader Damian White issued a message today on how the council plans to combat the “huge challenge” of stopping the spread of Covid-19 in the borough.

As of Wednesday, March 18, 2,626 people had tested positive in the UK for the coronavirus and Havering has had seven cases.

Speaking about the spread of the virus, Cllr White said: “Like the whole of the nation, Havering is facing the very serious issue of the coronavirus that will mean changes to the way we live our lives.

“We do not for how long this will be essential as things are changing daily. My heart goes out to those who have already suffered because of this.

“It looks like this emergency will continue for months rather than days and will touch virtually all aspects of our lives.

“As a council we are already making internal changes and stopping non-essential council meetings to concentrate on this issue.”

He continued: “Together we are facing a huge challenge.

“We will overcome it through good planning, working together and taking care of each other.

“I’m heartened by the number of people coming forward volunteering their time and energy to support friends, neighbours and the vulnerable.

“Being good neighbours is the best thing we can do to help each other.”

Speaking about provision for the elderly, the leader told the Recorder: “We are ready to lead and support the activities that the public, private and voluntary sectors will need to put in place should government advice to over-70s change in coming days and weeks.

“Helping vulnerable people is what we do on a daily basis and we are preparing for that work to expand considerably.”

Havering’s chief executive Andrew Blake-Herbert added: “Over the coming days and weeks many of our non-vital services may be subject to change.

“In some cases we may need to alter or cancel these services.

“We want to make sure that those most in need have the opportunity to reach us. If you are concerned about yourself or a vulnerable family member, friend or neighbour, please get in touch with us.

“This also includes help around money, support, housing or council tax payments.”

He added that the council will remain open to receiving calls but might operate at a reduced capacity.

The director of public health for Havering, Mark Ansell reiterated the government’s advice on keeping safe.

“Wash your hands more than usual and for at least 20 seconds with hot water and soap,” said Mr Ansell.

“Anyone with symptoms such as a cough or high temperature should stay at home for at least seven days.

“If you live with other people they should stay at home for at least 14 days to avoid spreading that infection outside the home.

“Take action yourself to minimise the risk of contracting or passing on the borough.

“I’m afraid there will be no business as usual.”

For up-to-date information on the coronavirus outbreak, see our rolling liveblog or follow our east London Facebook group.


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