MP Gareth Thomas questions coronavirus testing shortage in Harrow

The Harrow West MP has quizzed the health secretary as to why families in Harrow are struggling to get a coronavirus test.

Coronavirus testing shortages are currently affecting the whole of the UK as members wishing to test themselves for the virus cannot book a test or are being redirected to other centres far from their local area.

For residents in Harrow, some are being redirected to as far as Lewisham or Milton Keynes.

Users booking tests are constantly reminded that the service is “currently very busy” and to try again later if no bookings are available or if the centres available are at an inconvenient location.

Speaking at the Commons, MP Gareth Thomas asked: “Like elsewhere, the numbers with Covid in Harrow are on the rise and whilst there are tests available for key workers, I am told that parents and their children cannot get a Covid test for ‘love nor money’ in Harrow or indeed near Harrow.

“I say gently to the Secretary of State, that doesn’t feel like a world leading test and trace system, and so would he take a specific look at Harrow and the circumstances there in terms of testing.

“And in particular, why the nearby centre at Heathrow is so unused at the moment?”

In response, health secretary Matt Hancock said: “Well the Honourable Gentleman makes an important case for Harrow and I’m very happy to take a look at Harrow specifically.

“The capacity constraint that there is, is in the labs rather than the centres. We have the centres available to be able to proves a huge amount of tests.

“We have the record capacity in the labs, but it is in the labs that the constraint is. Now we are bringing in more machines. We have got more being installed all of the time.

“That is why the capacity is constantly going up, but nevertheless clearly we need to keep driving at that as the demand is going up as well.”

How is Harrow doing?

Latest government figures show that Harrow is far from an area of concern as the rate of infection and number of new cases have decreased

The number of new cases in Harrow in the seven days to September 13 has dropped to 24.7 per 100,000 – which is slightly less than its previous rate up to September 6 (26.3).

In the days up to September 13, there were 62 new cases – and in the previous update there were 66 new cases.

The data for the most recent three days (September 14 to 16) has been excluded as it is incomplete and likely to be revised.

With these new figures, Harrow is the 114th local authority out of 315 in England with the highest coronavirus rise.

Neighbouring borough Brent is the 119th local authority with the highest coronavirus rise. But cases have been rising in Brent with latest figures showing a rate of 23.3 per 100,000 – compared to 18.2 up to September 6.

There were 77 new cases in Brent up to September 13, compared to 66 new cases in the previous week.

These figures are however unlikely to be entirely reflective on the current cases, due to current testing shortages.

In London, Redbridge currently is the borough with the highest rise of Covid-19 cases, sitting at 56th on the list.

How do I book a test?

While you may be redirected elsewhere, these are your nearest centres:

  • Harrow Site A – (Civic Centre) Tues 22nd, Fri 25th, Mon 28th
  • Harrow Site B – (Northwick Park) Sat 19th

Due to current shortages, you should only book a test if you display coronavirus symptoms.

To book a test, visit here.

Harrow Times | Local News