Havering now included in early roll-out of mass Covid testing despite initial government ‘oversight’

Havering was initially missed off the list for coronavirus mass testing, despite currently having the highest infection...

Havering was initially missed off the list for coronavirus mass testing, despite currently having the highest infection rate in London. Picture: PA/Jane Barlow - Credit: PA

Havering has confirmed it will be included in the early roll-out of rapid Covid-19 tests, although it initially appeared it had missed out despite having the highest coronavirus infection rate in London.

The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) has confirmed it received an application for mass testing from the council and the borough will be included in the scheme in the “next coming weeks”.

On Monday (November 9), it was announced by the prime minister that NHS Test and Trace and local directors of public health are increasing testing of priority and high-risk groups in local communities on a weekly basis with 600,000 tests to be sent out this week.

Each director of public health was given the opportunity to apply for the kits to be used to test local people based on their knowledge of the community, in a bid to help stop the spread of the infection and protect the vulnerable.

Leader of Havering Council, Damian White said: “We expressed an interest to participate and were surprised to see we were not included when it was announced.

“We now know this was an oversight by the Department of Health and Social Care and we are now part of this first group who will be doing this. We couldn’t afford to ignore this as we see the number of people infected by Covid-19 continuing to increase in the borough.”

Havering’s director of public health, Dr Mark Ansell said: “We’re pleased with the outcome as it means that people who may be infected and infectious but without symptoms can get tested and take the necessary actions, and ultimately help us in our fight against the virus.

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“We are still in the early stages of developing our plans to deliver these tests and we’re working out how and where the tests will be delivered. As soon as more information is available we will publish our plans on the website and social media.”

The directors of public health are to determine how to prioritise the allocation of these new tests, based on the specific needs of their communities, and will determine how people in each community are tested.

They will be supported by NHS Test and Trace to expand testing programmes in their area through access to training and clinical and operational guidance.