4 - 8 January
Happy New Year to you. I hope that you, your family and friends had an enjoyable break, although for most of us it wasn’t what we had planned.
I’m afraid that the Council started the New Year with some very sad news, being the sudden death of Cllr Poonam Dhillon after a short illness. It was a real shock to learn of Cllr Dhillon’s passing. She was a well-liked and well-known councillor who will be missed by many of her constituents and fellow ward councillors. I would like to offer my sincere condolences to Poonam’s family and friends.
The late Councillor Poonam Dhillon. You can read more in my statement.
On Monday 4 January 2021, the Prime Minister announced changes to COVID-19 restrictions, moving us all into another national lockdown as a result of the continued, rapid rise in infections. The message is clear - stay at home, except for the most essential activities. I urge you to read the Government guidance.
This has not been the start to 2021 we all wanted. I know this is extremely disappointing and worrying for us all. We must take this situation very seriously, particularly as the science shows clearly that the virus’s new variant transmits at a much faster rate. We must continue to play our part if we are to reduce the spread of this disease, save lives and prevent the overwhelming of the NHS.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan declared a ‘major incident’ this afternoon with the number of COVID patients in hospitals 35% higher than during April’s peak. Read more in the statement from the Mayor | London City Hall.
Everyone must continue to follow the three basic steps which help stop the spread of the virus; Wash your hands regularly, wear a face covering, and keep space.
Earlier this week, I chaired a meeting for all Councillors. We were briefed by our Chief Executive, Niall Bolger, on the new national lockdown, as well as our Director of Public Health, Kelly O’Neill. Kelly emphasised the shocking increase in death rates in the borough during December and over Christmas and the New Year. We also heard from Peter Matthew, our Executive Director for Housing, Planning & Communities about our Enforcement and Police Teams. They will be taking a much tougher approach to any businesses and residents who do not follow the guidance. Please don’t be one of them!
Currently, one in 30 people now have COVID-19 across London. The figure is a stark reminder that we’re not out of the woods. However, I want to assure you that in Hounslow we are making swift progress to roll out our rapid test sites for those who do not have symptoms, and vaccination programmes. Rapid tests, officially known as ‘lateral flow tests’ provide a positive or negative result in 30-40 minutes. From Tuesday 5th January, members of the community with no symptoms have been able book a free rapid test online via the Council’s website here www.hounslow.gov.uk/rapidtest.
We have two rapid test sites now and will be announcing in the coming weeks where our capacity for testing is increased. The first two are up and running at Hounslow House and Heston Library. Further details will be provided soon. You can read more in the press release on Rapid COVID-19 tests available in Hounslow
Vaccines are also now being administered at Chiswick Health Centre to the most vulnerable groups as identified by the NHS. More places will open soon to enable you to receive your vaccination. Please check the Council website for details. Please note, you will be notified by your GP when and where you will receive your vaccination, not the Council.
Chiswick Health Centre
Those who DO have COVID-19 symptoms such as a high temperature, a new and continuous cough, a change to or loss of smell or taste, should self-isolate and book a ‘PCR test’. You can book an appointment or order a home testing kit via the government’s website www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test, the NHS COVID-19 app or by calling 119.
The Council continues to work hard to protect our most vulnerable and support those who need extra help. Please remember; you’re not alone, the Council and our Community Hub is here to help you. If you or someone you know needs help and support, please contact the Hub on 020 7084 9697 or Hub@hounslow.gov.uk.
I’m so very proud of our continued #1Hounslow spirit. Working with our partners in the Borough; voluntary and community groups, individuals, and local businesses has been instrumental in ensuring no one is without the help they need to get through these very challenging times. I know many of us are feeling the fatigue of these evolving circumstances and the continued changes to Government advice, but we must continue to work together and build on our achievements to date.
Undoubtedly, it’s going to be a very difficult time over the next six weeks, particularly for many who are juggling working from home, caring duties, home schooling... The list goes on. It’s important for everyone to care for their own mental and physical wellbeing, so please take the time to look after yourself and do the things you can to support yourselves as well as others.
Please stay at home. Protect the NHS. Save lives.
Cllr Steve Curran