Mobile unit managed to increase number of younger people screened
Queues outside Zara. Picture: Westfield
Hundreds of people got tested for coronavirus at a walk-in test centre at the Westfield London shopping centre.
The mobile unit visited the shopping centre in a bid to get more young people tested after an increase in people in their twenties testing positive for the virus.
The move came as Hammersmith and Fulham council asked Westfield if it could take the mobile test centre to the Shepherd’s Bush shopping mall – Europe’s largest – this Saturday and Sunday (12 & 13 September).
It saw 288 people get tested on Saturday and 358 on Sunday – a record for the borough according to Ben Coleman, the cabinet member in charge of health and adult social care.
He told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “It was a stunning success to get 646 people tested. We arranged with Westfield that anyone could just walk in and get tested. That’s what makes it work.”
Residents were having problems registering online for tests as nationally it was reported labs were struggling to cope with the workload.
And recent figures show that 40 per cent of the cases in the West London borough were among 20 to 29-year-olds and 22 per cent were aged 30 to 39.
Last week the borough had an infection rate of 27.5 cases per 100,000 people, which was the second highest rate of anywhere in London.
The council now has four methods to help get the infection rate down and avert a local lockdown.
These include deploying mobile testing units in the borough every day – and moving them into local hotspots.
The council’s head of Covid-19, Linda Jackson, said: “We are really taking the mobile testing units to the heart of where we think the issues are for our communities.”
The borough is also one of four London boroughs piloting local contact tracing, where staff phone people who tested positive to check they are ok and find out who they have been in contact with.
The others are Southwark, Newham and Hackney with City of London.
The council is also speaking to businesses and doing spot checks to make sure they have rigorous health measures in place.
The council is working with Imperial College London’s infectious diseases experts before students arrive for the start of the academic year, to plan what would happen if there are cases in halls of residence or on campus.
The fourth part of the council’s plan is working with community leaders and faith forums to help spread the message to keep on following health advice of rigorous hand washing, social distance and wearing face coverings.
Julia Gregory - Local Democracy Reporter