The leader of Brent Council fears “community tensions” could arise if issues around testing for Covid-19 are not solved.
Cllr Muhammed Butt called for more clarity around the test and trace system at a local level to ensure greater access and contain the number of infections.
He said this is particularly important for members of Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities in the borough, who have been hit particularly hard by the virus.
Cllr Butt said: “As the head of the World Health Organisation made clear back in March, testing has always been the priority in the global fight to control the pandemic and that’s certainly the case in Brent too.
“What we need is local control of test and trace so that we can ensure that our residents – of whom two out of three are from a BAME background and are statistically at greater risk – can get a test when they need one and ensure that they are not pushed out by people visiting a Brent testing site from outside of the borough.
“We’ll need to reassure our residents through local community leaders, but the greater the transparency and feeling of ownership over testing that people have, the greater the trust will be in the covid response.
“If we do not get local control over testing then I am seriously concerned that Black and Asian communities could be pushed out and we will have serious community tensions as a result.”
His words come amid a rising number of infections across London and new measures announced by the Government to try and curb this at a national level.
They also follow ongoing concerns around testing, with reports of people struggling to secure Covid-19 tests either online or in person.
Last week, Brent Council’s director of public health Dr Melanie Smith issued a statement noting “the prospect of a second wave of this deadly virus is now real”.
She reminded people that wearing face coverings in shops or hospitality venues is now a legal requirement – unless eating or drinking or exemptions apply – and of the advice to work from home where possible.
And she urged people to only book a test if they are showing symptoms of coronavirus – a new, continuous cough, high temperature, or change in taste or smell.
“The fight against this terrible virus is not over. We must all take responsibility together, by following the new rules, to avoid further restrictions and keep Brent safe,” she said.