The Government has refused to say if it will reopen Ilford’s coronavirus testing centre to walk-ins after an impassioned plea from Redbridge Council’s leader.

The testing centre in Mildmay Road car park began turning away people without appointments over the weekend, reportedly due to a “lack of capacity”.

However, residents have complained there are no appointment slots available on the website and that they cannot get through to the 119 number.

Cllr Jas Athwal wrote to Health Secretary Matt Hancock yesterday (September 13) insisting the change is “clearly unacceptable and must be corrected immediately”.



He also called on the Department of Health and Social Care to provide an additional mobile testing unit for the borough after it became London’s biggest coronavirus hotspot last week.

The letter reads: “We are deeply concerned that, should this issue not be resolved immediately, it will impact on our ability to bring the number of Covid-19 cases down.

“This will of course present an increased risk to our communities, putting more local people at risk of catching the virus and some at risk of serious illness and death.”

The rate of infections rose from 11.2 infections per 100,000 people to 31.9 infections per 100,000 people last week.

Cllr Athwal added that some of the highest rates of infection where in the south of the borough, where the testing centre is located.

Read more: Redbridge residents 'must act now to avoid local lockdown'

Responding to the Local Democracy Reporter Service today, a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care did not confirm whether the centre would reopen to walk-ins.

They said: “NHS Test and Trace is working and our capacity is the highest it has ever been but we are seeing a significant demand for tests including from people who do not have symptoms and are not otherwise eligible.

“New booking slots and home testing kits are made available daily for those who need them and we are targeting testing capacity at the areas that need it most, including those where there is an outbreak, and prioritising at-risk groups.

“Our laboratories are processing more than a million tests a week and we recently announced new facilities and technology to process results even faster. If you do not have symptoms and are not eligible to get a test you can continue to protect yourself if you wash your hands, wear a face covering and follow social distancing rules.”

Concerns have also been raised about a lack of available tests in Waltham Forest, where residents report either no slots available or being directed to centres as far away as Inverness.

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