Council to provide hotels for Covid positive residents

Newham's ninth lateral flow testing centre

Newham has now opened its ninth community lateral flow testing site, where results are produced in less than 40 minutes. - Credit: LDRS

Newham Council has today announced it will pay to put residents who have tested positive for Covid-19 into hotels to help stop the virus spreading in overcrowded households.

It is the first local authority in the country to set up the scheme, which it hopes will help drive down infections.

Many residents live with multiple generations of family or in cramped house shares in the borough and public health officials blamed the Covid-19 Kent strain for a huge spike in infections at the beginning of the year. 

Director of public health Jason Strelitz said two sites had been procured by the council – a “hot” hotel for Covid positive residents and a “cold” site for those who have had a negative result but who live with a someone who has the virus and would be better off isolating at home.

“We know there are barriers to self-isolating and barriers to not spreading Covid where they are living if they are in overcrowded households,” said Mr Strelitz.

“We are putting in an innovative approach this week around supporting isolation. It gives an opportunity for either the person who tests positive or the other members of their household to come out for a temporary period so as to try and avoid spread within the household.

“We think it is a really important initiative which is part of a long term Covid strategy. We are going to be dealing with these issues for many months and likely years to come. Enabling people in those situations in multi-generational or overcrowded households to have that option of supported self-isolation is vital.”

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Newham has been one of the worst affected areas during the pandemic and recorded some of the highest Infection rates in the country. During the first wave more Newham residents died from the virus than any other local authority area.

However rates have begun to fall as the council has pushed testing. Yesterday, February 2, it opened its ninth community lateral flow testing site, where results are produced in less than 40 minutes, near London City Airport.

Newham is asking residents to get tested twice a week and now has more testing sites than any borough in London.

Cases dropped almost 40 percent in the week ending January 27 with 1,536 residents testing positive.

But it is still one of five boroughs with a seven-day rate above 400 cases per 100,000 people.

Newham mayor Rokhsana Fiaz said: “We have had infection rates that are very concerning, especially in the first week of January. As part of a really robust local contact test, trace, isolate, support system we needed to maximise the number of testing sites which are easily accessible to all of our community.

“A key area of worry for our residents is if they have to isolate they will lose their jobs or they will not have support through the isolation period. So we are providing additional layers of support for all those isolating.

"They will be able to move into hotels, which will ensure that they are well and safe and someone will be in touch with them every single day to keep them going because we know that isolation itself can be very anxiety inducing.”