The introduction of nine Covid-19 rapid testing centres in Newham means residents and people who work in the borough have the best chance to get tested, and to keep the community safe.
The Council is now also offering an opportunity for those who find it hard to self-isolate at home to access alternative safe accommodation.
The two centres opening last week join seven others which began to operate from 18 December 2020.
The centres, which return results in as little as 40 minutes, are designed to allow those who are symptom-free but have to leave home for work, volunteering or caring to check they are not carrying the virus into the community.
Anyone testing positive must self-isolate for at least 10 days and the council is making support available for those who are negatively impacted as a result. But Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz said that the government is failing to provide councils with sufficient funding to ensure people are not left in financial distress as a result of following the rules.
She said that the Newham residents â€śhave been hit hardest hit by Covid-19 and we are making sure they get all the help we can give them by offering the highest level of rapid testing anywhere in London, and providing support to our residents who face financial or other hardship as a result of self-isolatingâ€ť.
â€śEvery day I listen to worried Newham residents who cannot afford to stay away from work and itâ€™s why from the outset of this deadly pandemic, weâ€™ve been demanding that government provide Councils like ours more money through the Covid-19 Deprivation Premium so that we can fully support them. As well as that, this out of touch government needs to make higher universal sick pay and hardship grants payable immediately to support working people to self- isolate and defeat the Covid-19 virusâ€ť, she added.
Jason Strelitz, Newham Director of Public Health, said they have worked â€śhard to get a level of testing available that allows all residents, and people who have to leave home to work in Newham to check their Covid-19 status. But if we canâ€™t support people who need to self-isolate properly the whole system is in danger of being compromised.â€ť
Rapid testing enables people who post negative tests to carry on delivering the vital services our community rely on, such as public transport workers, social workers, retail staff and carers.
It also helps stop transmission into the community and ultimately saves lives. From last week Newham becomes the first local authority in the country to offer support to residents who face difficulty in effectively self-isolating at home.
This includes people who live with vulnerable family members, those in homes where they share facilities such as washing and cooking, and those who live in overcrowded accommodation. Newham Council will now offer safe accommodation in hotels to allow people to safely self-isolate.