Council aiming to ramp up system 'very soon'
Hammersmith and Fulham Council is planning to follow in the footsteps of Liverpool to do mass coronavirus testing.
It is hoping to start offering more tests with a fast turnaround “very soon.”
The council’s head of public health, Dr Nicola Lang, told the health, inclusion, social care and accountability committee this Wednesday (4 November) it was discussing the tests with the Government.
The rate of infection in the borough remains one of the highest in London.
She said. “We are in discussions with the Department of Health on mass testing.”
She said they hoped to do lateral flow tests which “look for a bit of protein on the surface of the virus”.
The tests got underway in Liverpool this week and Dr Lang said, “We are planning to start this very soon in Hammersmith and Fulham.”
The test is “a bit like a pregnancy test and the results can be turned around in 20 to 30 minutes, she explained.
However the sensitivity of the tests means the pickup rate of the infection “is a bit lower”, she said.
The borough’s latest rate of positive test results is 211 per 100,000 people in the last seven days to Wednesday.
Dr Lang said the rate is falling and stressed, “We do extensive testing in the borough with mobile testing units moving around Hammersmith and Fulham.
The borough is testing 579 per 100,000 residents and the London average is just over 300 per 100,000 people.
Dr Lang said: “To say we are the highest in London, We are extraordinarily high.”
And she explained that a private medical surgery had been registering coronavirus tests to its office post code – which accounted for “130 cases falsely attributed to our borough in three and a half weeks.”
The practice has now changed how it registers results.
The council’s head of covid response, Linda Jackson, said there are also plans to open two local testing centres which will be open from 8am to 8pm seven days a week for the next six months.
Julia Gregory - Local Democracy Reporter
November 5, 2020