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Coronavirus: Two Brent councillors self isolate following new guidance

PUBLISHED: 15:21 17 March 2020 | UPDATED: 15:21 17 March 2020

Cllr Matt Kelcher, Kensal Green ward

Cllr Matt Kelcher, Kensal Green ward

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Two Brent councillors have confirmed they are self-isolating in light of the most recent guidance on the coronavirus outbreak.

Brent Cllr Mili Patel, responsible for children's safeguarding at Brent Council. Photographer: Justin ThomasBrent Cllr Mili Patel, responsible for children's safeguarding at Brent Council. Photographer: Justin Thomas

Cllr Matt Kelcher (Kensal Green ward) does not know whether he has the coronavirus or a seasonal flu because he has not been tested.

He said he came down with symptoms including a dry cough before the weekend and was told initially by NHS 111 that he could carry on as normal as he did not meet the criteria for the Covid-19 infection.

He said: “When I started to feel worse not better over the weekend I spoke to NHS 111 again and was told that there was no capacity for testing.

“So as a precaution and in line with national government advice, I have decided to self isolate.

“It’s worrying that people in my situation cannot access tests to be sure, but given the nature of my symptoms I am following government advice and will be self isolating at home. I will still be available to support anyone in Kensal Green if they want to email or call me.”

His wife, Harlesden representative Cllr Mili Patel, is also self-isolating, although she is not experiencing symptoms.

Brent Council chief executive Carolyn Downs addressed a health and wellbeing scrutiny meeting on Monday night, an hour after Prime Minister’s Boris Johnson announced new guidance that people should avoid non-essential travel and social contact.

Ms Downs spoke of the “extreme challenges” now faced by the council, saying decisions made that day had to change because of the government announcement.

She said: “All staff, if they can, [should] work from home, but people will be well aware that a large number of our staff will not be able to work from home. So a carte blanche with the prime minister saying everybody should work from home is deeply unhelpful to be honest but we will work with staff and if they are able to work from home, they should.”

“Non-essential” events organised by the council will be cancelled while outside organisations holding a gathering in the civic centre “may cancel their own events”.

She said statutory decision making within the council would still take place and told older councillors to “think very carefully” before coming to meetings.

The council will “struggle” but she said they will “do what we can to provide statutory services,” suggesting a fund may be set up to support the voluntary sector.

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