I’m writing to you with my latest update on the response to the
Coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic in
[CV Update from GT]
I have been informed that at least two cases of the South African
variant 🦠 have been found in Harrow. I understand surge testing
will take place in parts of NORTH HARROW, HATCH END, MARLBOROUGH,
WEALDSTONE, HARROW WEALD and BELMONT. This means that test kits will
be handed out door-to-door in those areas, while some houses and
businesses more widely will be asked to attend Harrow Test centres.
These tests will help the council to establish whether the South
African variant is present in our community. The more people who test,
the better the chance we have of slowing and stopping its spread. Stay
safe and please comply if you are approached and do get tested.
CLICK HERE FOR MY VIDEO UPDATE ON SURGE TESTING IN HARROW
PLEASE FIND BELOW KEY QUESTIONS & ANSWERS THAT HAVE BEEN PROVIDED BY
HOW WILL I KNOW THE PERSON KNOCKING AT MY DOOR IS WORKING FOR YOU?
Our staff are contracted from London Borough of Harrow. They will all
have ID from Number 8 Events Ltd on them. They will be wearing a
“Test Centre” blue high visibility vest, be wearing appropriate
PPE and will maintain a safe distance.
WHAT PERSONAL DETAILS WILL A VOLUNTEER ASK ME FOR?
They will not ask for any personal information. They won’t ask for
any banking information. They will not ask you to pay for anything.
They will not require access to your property.
I HEARD YOU’D BE KNOCKING ON DOORS IN MY AREA, BUT NO-ONE CALLED AT
We have identified an area around those postcodes across the country
where the variant has been identified. However, we do not anticipate
the need to test everyone who live within that postcode.
London Borough of Harrow and public health officials have determined
the localities to be tested based on scientific guidelines.
They will contact you if you need to be tested. In addition to
delivering door to door home test kits, Mobile Testing Units (MTUs)
will be available in the area.
HOW CAN I GET TESTED?
If you have COVID symptoms you should continue to get tested using the
existing testing channels – by ordering a home kit for people with
symptoms or going to a symptomatic test sites in your local areas.
For testing to detect the new variant, Mobile Testing Units will be
deployed in local areas for those people who are leaving their house
for work or essential shopping.
It is important that residents in new variant testing areas remain at
home and follow lockdown rules, therefore home testing kits will also
WHEN WILL MY DOORSTEP TEST BE COLLECTED?
We aim to pick up tests from households within 2-3 hours.
HOW OFTEN WILL PEOPLE GET TESTED?
We are asking people to take one test in a two-week period.
WHO CAN GET TESTED?
We will aim to test as many people within these areas who are aged 16
and over who is asymptomatic.
DOES TESTING HURT? WHAT WILL I HAVE TO DO IF I HAVE A HOME KIT?
No. Some people find it slightly uncomfortable but that’s all. You
need to push a swab up your nose and another one down your throat and
then pop them into the container provided. Instructions are included
in the kit.
CAN I REFUSE A TEST?
Yes, testing is voluntary. We would urge you to take the opportunity
if you are offered it. Testing will help us to find the virus, stop it
being shared, and protect our community.
HOW LONG WILL IT BE BEFORE I GET THE RESULTS OF MY TEST?
As with all PCR tests results should be back within 48 hours, but in
most cases they are usually back within 24 hours.
However the initial result will only determine if you have
coronavirus. Further analysis needs to be undertaken to isolate the
We will notify you if you have the SA variant in due course however
the rules for self-isolation remain the same regardless of the
I HAVE A COMMON COLD. WILL THE TEST STILL WORK?
Yes it will still work.
DOESN’T MORE TESTING RESULT IN MORE POSITIVES, MEANING WE’LL ALL
BE IN LOCKDOWN FOR LONGER?
No. More testing will help us find the virus and stop it being spread
HOW DO I FIND OUT IF DOORSTEP TESTING WILL BE COMING TO MY AREA?
Households will receive a doorstep test and will have received a
leaflet telling them to expect such a test. If you aren’t sure then
please look at Harrow’s website where you will be able to see
whether your home is in the doorstep drop area.
WHAT IF I HAVE BEEN IN ONE OF THESE AREAS RECENTLY?
Everyone should continue to follow the national guidance and book a
PCR test if they develop symptoms.
WE ARE IN A NEARBY POSTCODE, CAN WE GET TESTED?
We are focusing testing on those areas where we know we have confirmed
cases of the variant. But anyone in the local area who is concerned of
course can get a test.
IS THE VARIANT OF CONCERN THE ONE THAT WAS FIRST IDENTIFIED IN SOUTH
We believe that it is, but we are conducting additional testing to
properly sequence and identify the scale of any transmission.
AM I MORE AT RISK IF I HAVE THE SA VARIANT?
At present there is no evidence to suggest that this variant is any
more severe than others.
DOES THIS VARIANT SPREAD MORE EASILY?
Viruses often evolve and this is not unusual. We know that this
variant is more transmissible. Public Health England are carrying out
work as a priority to understand the potential risk this variant may
IS THIS VARIANT MORE DEADLY?
There is currently no evidence that this variant causes more severe
illness, or that the regulated vaccine would not protect against it.
SHOULD PEOPLE BE WORRIED?
It is right that we should be cautious about new variants, we
appreciate that people may be anxious in the current climate.
We are constantly on the lookout for any new variants, our ability to
identify any early will allow us to deploy public health interventions
to keep people safe.
We are investigating this new variant of virus which originated in
South Africa. Viruses often evolve and this is not unusual.
We are carrying out work as a priority to understand the potential
risk this variant may cause. It is important to say that there is
currently no evidence that this variant causes more severe illness, or
that the regulated vaccine would not protect against it.
The best way to stop infection is to stick to the rules – wash our
hands, wear a face covering and keep our distance from others.
SHOULD I STILL GET A TEST IF I HAVE HAD THE VACCINE?
We are offering testing to everyone aged 16 and over – even if you
have been vaccinated
DOES THE COVID VACCINE PROTECT AGAINST THIS VARIANT?
PHE are continuing efforts to understand the effect of the variants on
vaccine efficacy and there is currently no evidence to suggest that
vaccines will be ineffective.
WHAT IS A PCR A TEST?
Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests check for the genetic material
(RNA) of the virus in the sample. The sample is tested in a
WILL THE STANDARD PCR TESTS IDENTIFY THIS VARIANT?
ARE WE EXCLUDING PEOPLE WHO HAVE TESTED POSITIVE FOR PCR IN THE LAST
90 DAYS – AS PER CURRENT PCR TESTING GUIDANCE?
If you have tested positive for PCR within the last 90 days, you will
not need to be tested unless you are already part of an existing pilot
WHY ARE YOU USING THE PCR AND NOT THE QUICKER LATERAL FLOW TEST?
PCR tests to carry out genomic sequencing and tell us which variant of
coronavirus is present, genome sequencing cannot be done on Lateral
WHAT IS GENOMIC SEQUENCING?
Genomic sequencing is the process of testing a sample of the virus in
order to map its genetic sequence. This is happening as part of
continued surveillance studies to identify any new variants of virus
that causes COVID-19.
WILL PCR/LFTS DETECT IT?
There is no evidence so far that PCR or LFT tests are unable to detect
this variant. Research is ongoing to confirm this. PHE has requested a
sample of the virus in order to perform tests in the laboratory . PCR
tests do not distinguish between the variants.
IS THIS TESTING BEING OFFERED IN SCHOOLS?
The test is offered to residents 16 years and over, this is not a
schools-based initiative. Existing testing will continue in
educational settings. We are offering testing to everyone aged 16 and
over as cases are most likely to be detected in this age-group.
I HAVE A RELATIVE IN A CARE HOME LOCALLY – WILL THEY NEED TO BE
Regular testing is already routinely carried out in all care home
settings. Therefore we will identify anyone in these settings with
the new variant through our normal practices.
Information from Harrow Council can be found here
🦠 Over the past week, Harrow has seen 166 cases of coronavirus,
which is a rise in 12 cases from last week. The rate per 100,000 is up
to 66 in Harrow today; down from 175 just a month ago but this is a
rise from 62 cases per 100,000 last week. The need to stay vigilant,
to wear a mask, wash hands & socially distance remains critical,
especially with the emergence of the Covid variants in Harrow.
🧪 If you feel fine and are leaving the house on a regular basis –
be sure to get a free rapid test and help stop the asymptomatic
spread. Rapid test centres are opening across Harrow and have stopped
hundreds of people from spreading Coronavirus so far. 1 in 3 people
with Covid do not display any symptoms & mobile units across Harrow
have already identified hundreds of people who did not know they were
Covid positive. Book a free rapid test at the Beacon Centre, St
Ann’s Shopping Centre, Harrow Arts Centre, Harrow Civic Centre, or
Shree Swaminarayan Temple Stanmore, open 7 days a week.
Book a test: [link removed]
My thoughts continue to be with the loved ones of those who have died,
and with those who have contracted the virus. Again, I can only begin
to imagine the sense of fear and loss families must be feeling.
I hope readers continue to stay safe, socially distance and regularly
check in on loved ones. Again, people are being urged to remain
vigilant for any symptoms of Covid-19 If you're feeling unwell with
any of the symptoms of Covid, a new continuous cough, high
temperature, or a loss of or change to taste or smell, it's vital that
you get tested.
The response to Coronavirus is being directed by Government centrally
working with Public Health England, the Government’s advice
is available here
[[link removed]]. Government
assistance specifically for businesses is available here
A reminder that if you need to get in touch about the issues covered
here – or anything else – please contact my office on 0207 219
4243 or e-mail me at [email protected]
. Please bear
with us, as we have received five times our regular casework
correspondence in recent months.
HARROW VACCINATION STATS 💉
⭐ Positive news – last month it was great to see Harrow as the
best performing borough in London for vaccine take-up.
3️⃣8️⃣% of adults across Harrow have now been given atleast
their first dose of the vaccine
💉As of last week, in total, 91,377 of Harrow's 243,651 residents
aged 16 or older have received at least one dose of a COVID-19
vaccine. This equates to a first dose vaccination rate of 37,503 per
100,000 or just under 38 per cent.⬆️
📈The current vaccination average for England is 37,681 per 100,000
(37.68 %), which Harrow falls just below and Harrow is now ranked 3rd
out of 33 London boroughs in England. 🥉
⏫Of the 91,377 residents who have received at least one dose of a
COVID-19 vaccine, 10,616 (11.62%) were aged over 80 at the 31st March
2021. In addition, 6,871 (7.52%) were aged 75-79, 9,119 (9.98%) were
aged 70-74, 10,370 (11.35%) were aged 65-69 and 11,134 (12.18%) were
aged 60-64. The remaining 43,267 (47.35%) residents who have received
at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine were under the age of 60 at
the 31st March 2021.
🏥A reminder that our NHS staff and volunteers at London North West
University Healthcare NHS Trust and across the borough continue to do
a quite remarkable job for us; quietly supported by Metropolitan
Police Service officers, London Fire Brigade, the Armed Forces and
Harrow Council staff, we owe them a huge debt of gratitude as the
vaccination programme expands over the next month.
The renewed lockdown measures will have created anxiety and stress for
many. Don't be afraid to reach out for help if you are worried about
your mental health: SAMARITANS: 116 123, CALM: 0800 58 58
58, YOUNG MINDS:0800 018 2138, THE MIX (UNDER 25S): 0808 808 4994,
HARROW COUNCIL ALSO ENCOURAGE CALLING THE CORONAVIRUS HOTLINE: 0208
HARROW TALKING THERAPIES
If you're anxious, feeling low or stressed about the impact of the
virus on you or loved ones, Harrow Talking Therapies Service is here
Part of the NHS Improving Access to Psychological Therapy service, it
supports people feeling isolated or worrying about what's going on, as
well those dealing with depression, bereavement and insomnia.
Available via phone or video
call: [link removed]
The council continues to operate a hotline telephone number during
weekends in order to provide support to those in need of assistance in
Harrow - if you are in need of support due to Covid please give the
hotline a call - 0208 901 2698
GUIDE TO TAX DEBT AND MENTAL HEALTH
Some of the topics in the above guide to tax debt and mental health
will be of support to constituents, in order to:
Understand the impact of debt to mental health - the different kinds
of debt (e.g. tax debt) and how they can be a key source of stress,
depression, and anxiety if not planned and managed properly.
Advice for dealing with debt such as setting up a Debt Management Plan
or an Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA), qualifying for a Debt
Relief Order (DRO), or even filing bankruptcy to get some protection
and keep life essentials like pension savings safe from creditors.
What to do if debt problems begin affecting your mental health. This
includes recognizing the symptoms and early warning signs of mental
health problems associated with debt as well as advice on where to
turn to for help and support.
Other useful information and resources, including debt charities and
organisations that are dedicated to helping people conquer their debt
SUPPORT FOR DOMESTIC ABUSE VICTIMS
Anyone that is experiencing domestic abuse can now go into a Boots or
an independent chemist and seek help. If they say the codeword
‘ANI’ (pronounced Annie), they’ll be taken to a private room
and asked if they want to call 999 or a domestic abuse helpline. ANI
stands for Action Needed Immediately.
📞NATIONAL DOMESTIC ABUSE HELPLINE 0808 2000 247
📞RESPECT HELPLINE FOR MALE VICTIMS OF ABUSE 0808 8010327
Due to COVID - FirmFoundation have suspended drop-in facilities. If
you are homeless and rough sleeping, you can call Streetlink on 0300
5000 914. Ring Harrow Council on 020 8424 1093 – you can also
contact FirmFoundation through the Contact Us page on their website or
call the office on 02084265515.
FRESH HORIZONS CND
The Fresh Horizons CND charity based in Wembley has supported
accommodation available for the single homeless in Harrow during the
ongoing coronavirus restrictions. If you or someone you know is in
need of supported accommodation, Fresh Horizons can be contacted by
telephone at 0300 321 4702 or via email at [email protected]
SUPPORT FOR CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE
Harrow Council, Harrow CCG, and Young Harrow Foundation have put
together a joint document
[[link removed]] signposting
residents to a collection of some of the most helpful and trusted
sources of information and guidance for children and young people’s
For young people (high school and college age), the
document ‘looking after ourselves’ can be found here
[[link removed]] – covering
how to stay healthy, stay connected and learn new skills during this
SUPPORT AND ONLINE RESOURCES FOR THE FAMILY
Harrow Council have collected a range of online resources
for all members of the family to keep entertained while libraries
are closed. You will be able to find resource to help with homework,
eBooks, newspapers and magazines and keeping yourself healthy and
Counselling services and mental health support
• 5 Steps to Mental Wellbeing
- A fantastic primer on stress, anxiety and depression from the
NHS. Evidence suggests there are 5 steps you can take to improve your
mental health and wellbeing. Trying these things could help you feel
more positive and able to get the most out of life.
· Relate Family Mediation
[[link removed]] - a
service fully geared up to supporting families through the crisis.
Tel: 0300 0032324 or email [email protected]
· DAWN [[link removed]] - provide
a counselling service to the local community of Harrow and its
neighbouring boroughs. Tel: 020 8427 6796 or
email: [email protected]
· Need To Talk [[link removed]] - offering
1 to 1 counselling supporting their clients or any client by telephone
or webcam. Tel: call/ text on 07427548559 or
email [email protected]
· Ignite Trust
[[link removed]] - During these challenging
and uncertain times, Ignite Trust is working hard to ensure they
continue to provide support to the boroughs most vulnerable and
at-risk young people. Email [email protected]
· [[link removed]] Every
Mind Matters [[link removed]] - Expert
advice and practical tips to help you look after your mental health
The council has a webpage covering their own response to the
coronavirus pandemic, this is regularly being updated and is
BOOK A FREE TEST ONLINE
[[link removed]] OR
😷 GETTING TESTED AT A LOCAL TESTING CENTRE: 🧪
[Feel Fine? Get Tested.]
FEEL FINE? GET TESTED
Rapid test centres are opening across Harrow and have stopped hundreds
of people from spreading Coronavirus so far. 1 IN 3 people with Covid
do not display any symptoms & mobile units across Harrow have already
identified hundreds of people who did not know they were Covid
Book a free rapid test at the BEACON CENTRE, ST ANN’S SHOPPING
CENTRE, HARROW ARTS CENTRE, HARROW CIVIC CENTRE, OR SHREE SWAMINARAYAN
TEMPLE STANMORE, open 7 days a week.
BOOK A FREE TEST: [link removed]
[Get a test]
AS ALWAYS, BOOK A TEST IF:
• You have coronavirus symptoms: 🤒 fever and/or new and
continuous cough and/or loss of or change to sense of taste or smell
• You are an ‘essential worker’ who is not having symptoms
• You have been asked by NHS Test & Trace or Harrow Council to have
BOOK A FREE TEST [[link removed]] - TESTS MUST
BE BOOKED IN ADVANCE.
CAN YOU PROVIDE SUPPORT?
LONDON'S COMMUNITY KITCHEN
London's Community Kitchen (based at The Bridge, next to Harrow
Leisure Centre) run a Free Surplus Food Market open to everyone every
Friday from 3-5PM. This operation continues to serve over 10,000
people across Harrow and London. Please consider donating or getting
involved in any way that you can with this incredible Harrow-wide
response to the coronavirus pandemic:
If you’re ever in need of their support, the Community Kitchen want
to help - they won’t ask you for any details, or anything in return,
just turn up and they will provide you with food.
The Community Kitchen would love any support to keep their operation
running as effectively as possible. Please get in touch with Vivette
Morrow: [email protected]
and once you have had a
Covid test, she will help set you up as a volunteer!
Harrow Foodbank continues to highlight the impact of in-work poverty
and the number of ways that people find themselves at a crisis point.
Donations are accepted in collection bins after checkout at all major
supermarkets. The Foodbank continue to emphasise the majority of its
users are in work, but many are in need of emergency food provisions.
If you can, please consider providing a monetary donation to the food
bank, they have acquired a van and plan to make deliveries to
vulnerable residents across the borough in 2021 - send an email to
or visit Harrow.foodbank.org.uk
[/Harrow.foodbank.org.uk ] [/Harrow.foodbank.org.uk ]for more.
HELP FROM ME
[GT Zoom Surgeries]
I appreciate that whilst this outbreak of Covid-19 is currently
dominating a lot of our thoughts, other concerns and problems do not
disappear. However, to help reduce the spread of infection, I am
asking members of the public who need to contact my office to do so by
phone or email rather than in person and further, I will continue to
hold surgery appointments exclusively by telephone and Zoom video
conferencing. This is a temporary measure and a sensible precaution to
protect vulnerable people. Please be assured we continue to offer a
full service of advice and support to members of the public who need
My office can be contacted on [email protected]
telephone on 0207 219 4243 (Monday-Friday). Please bear with us, as we
have received five times our regular casework correspondence in recent
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