MP COLUMN: Mixed news over local Covid-19 test site
The further restrictions are sadly necessary to protect public health, prevent the further spread of Covid-19, and save lives.
Labour MPs and the national party generally support the government while highlighting incompetence and the need to improve public messaging.
A group of MPs in the North East, including me, recently responded to the new regional restrictions with detailed questions on key issues such as council powers and funding plus more help for affected businesses.
A solid test and trace system is vital. As we all know, the return of schools always results in increased coughs, colds, and splutters.
It is difficult to distinguish between those and Covid symptoms. Parents whose children have such symptoms have to isolate and cannot work and classes can be affected also.
Tests can tell them if they have caught Covid or not but people have been finding it difficult or impossible to get tested and get the results quickly.
The car park on Coronation Street in Wallsend is becoming a Local Test Site as part of a pilot to boost ‘walk through’ sites that are easily accessible by foot or bike.
And that the site complements the regional drive through testing network across the UK and home testing which can both be booked through the government’s online portal.
But it’s mixed news in Wallsend because the site will limit car parking and harm local businesses at that end of the High Street. They are already under pressure.
It would have been better to have consulted more widely and picked a place further from houses and shops but still accessible. I guess things are being done in a hurry and there are no perfect solutions. But it illustrates that the government must do more to base decisions on full local knowledge.
In the meantime, I ask people to sign up to the NHS Test and Trace app so they can be alerted if they have come near someone who is infected. I am assured there are no data issues.
I will continue to urge the government to get a grip on mass testing and other key issues during the coming months. I think we need to stop over-the-top rhetoric about Operation Moonshot and more solid changes on planet earth that are grounded in local knowledge.
Mary Glindon, North Tyneside MP