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Warning over rising Covid-19 cases in locked-down Calderdale

A Nottinghamshire district was today added to the government’s Covid-19 hotspot watchlist amid a spike in cases. 

Public Health England announced Newark and Sherwood, home to around 120,000 people, is now an ‘area of concern’.

Around 26.3 coronavirus cases were diagnosed for every 100,000 people living in the district in the week ending August 11 – the most up-to-date figures. 

For comparison, the authority’s weekly infection rate is higher than four areas that have already been hit with tougher restrictions in the North West – Stockport (25), Trafford (20.3), Wigan (9.2) and Rossendale (4.2).

Newark and Sherwood was among 29 areas named on the PHE watchlist, which is updated every Friday. Nine boroughs, including Swindon (44.1) and Northampton (38.6) have yet to be hit by a ban on household gatherings. 

No further restrictions were imposed on Oldham, despite fears it would be hit with tougher measures. Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham last night urged the Government not to ‘overreact’ to the spike in cases.

But the Department of Health today confirmed millions of people living in Greater Manchester, parts of Lancashire and Yorkshire, and Leicester face another week of being banned from meeting others in their homes or gardens. 

Households in areas of the North West, West Yorkshire, East Lancashire and Leicester cannot mix indoors – unless they are in a support bubble – and limits remain on numbers meeting outside.

Casinos, bowling alleys and conference halls will not be allowed to open in the worst-hit areas, despite Boris Johnson announcing they could prepare to reopen on Saturday following a two-week delay. 

It comes as residents in Calderdale – one of the locked-down areas of Yorkshire – were today given a stark warning about rising infection rates. The borough, with a population of 200,000, has the seventh highest infection rate in the country (37.6). 

Regional public health director Debs Harkins asked for the borough’s help to tackle Covid-19, saying ‘it’s clear that too many restrictions were lifted too quickly’.

Newark and Sherwood was among 29 areas named on the PHE watchlist, which is updated every Friday. Nine boroughs, including Swindon (44.1) and Northampton (38.6) have yet to be hit by a ban on household gatherings

WHERE ARE ENGLAND’S COVID-19 HOTSPOTS? 

Public Health England data up until August 11 shows the infection rates per 100,000 people are highest here:

Pendle: 89.7

Oldham: 82.3  

Blackburn with Darwen: 77. 

Bradford: 56.8

Leicester: 56.3

Swindon: 44.1

Calderdale: 42.8

Burnley: 39.5

Northampton: 38.6

Rochdale: 37.3

Health chiefs said the latest evidence does not show a decrease in the number of cases per 100,000 people in the 20 locked-down areas.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock met with local leaders to thrash out plans, where it was agreed that the rules – first imposed at the end of July – should stay in place.

Officials also acknowledged a continued rise in cases in Oldham and Pendle, while numbers remain high in Blackburn with Darwen.

Local health bosses will be tasked with setting up an ‘enhanced incident team’ in an effort to bring infection rates under control, without the need for tougher policies.

In good news for Leicester, the department said infection rates have fallen. It added that a further review is being carried out and an update will be given early next week.

Health Minister Edward Argar said: ‘I’d like to thank everyone in Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire, East Lancashire and Leicester for their continued patience in following these vital rules put in place to tackle the spread of the disease – I know it hasn’t been easy.

‘We will review the measures again next week as part of our ongoing surveillance and monitoring of the latest data.

‘It is essential we all remain vigilant, and I urge everyone in these areas to continue to follow the rules – wash your hands regularly, follow social distancing, get yourself a free test as soon as you get any symptoms, and isolate if NHS Test and Trace tells you to.’

People living in Calderdale, West Yorkshire, have been given a stark warning that action is needed to stem rising infections rates. While officials in Liverpool have praised a 'boots on the ground' approach to contact tracing for squashing an outbreak in the Princes Park area

People living in Calderdale, West Yorkshire, have been given a stark warning that action is needed to stem rising infections rates. While officials in Liverpool have praised a ‘boots on the ground’ approach to contact tracing for squashing an outbreak in the Princes Park area

ENGLAND’S COVID-19 OUTBREAK ISN’T OUT OF CONTROL, DATA SHOWS 

The coronavirus outbreak in England is not spiralling out of control and has stabilised again after a rise in July, according to official data.

A report published today by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said there are now around 3,800 people catching the virus each day in the community.

Around one in every 1,900 people is carrying the virus, the report said, and there were an estimated 28,300 people infected at any one time in the first week of August.

Today’s weekly estimate is mostly the same as last week except for a slight rise in the estimated daily new cases, from 3,700 to 3,800.

The ONS suggests 0.05 per cent of the population of England currently has Covid-19.

It said that while recent figures had suggested the percentage of individuals testing positive for Covid-19 in households in England had risen slightly in July, this trend now appears to have levelled off.

Official testing figures have been rising this week, with more than 1,000 cases declared on three occasions in four days after the number not being hit since June.

But experts say this is down to better testing which is finding cases more accurately – they still only appear to account for a quarter of the real number each day.

In Wales the report estimated that 1,500 people had coronavirus at any one time between August 3 and August 9 – one in every 2,100 people.

 

Current nationwide restrictions allow people to meet others in groups of up to six individuals, or two households in outdoor public places.

Pools, indoor gyms and other leisure facilities as well as nail bars, spas and beauty salons are to remain closed in Bradford, Blackburn and Leicester. 

While shielding will continue for individuals in Blackburn with Darwen, and Leicester City. 

In the same update, Newark and Sherwood was designated an ‘area of concern’ on the watch list of local authority areas with higher-than-average incidences of the virus.

It comes as Calderdale is set to launch its own contact tracing service in order to reach more contacts of positive cases than the national scheme is. 

Regional public health director Ms Harkins said Calderdale residents are abiding by social distancing but that new cases appear to be rising in key workers. 

The borough is one of three areas in West Yorkshire placed under stricter measures a fortnight ago, along with Bradford and Kirklees. 

Data published on Wednesday showed Calderdale as a whole had the ninth highest number of new cases in England. There were 44.5 per 100,000 people in the seven days to August 9, a rise from 39.7 in the previous period. 

But the most recent figures released by PHE today revealed the rate has dropped in Calderdale – home to Halifax – in the past week. 

Ms Harkins, who said in a statement she is a positive person following a battle with leukemia, said: ‘Being the voice of doom doesn’t come naturally to me.

‘But I’m sorry to say that I’m writing this today to stress how serious the situation in Calderdale is, and to ask for your help to tackle Covid-19.’

She added: ‘When we look at the trends in confirmed cases in Calderdale, it’s clear that too many restrictions were lifted too quickly.

‘In parts of Halifax particularly the infection rates are amongst the very highest in the country.

‘The situation can change rapidly and, at the time I’m writing this, there are no areas in Leicester, Blackburn with Darwen or Luton where the infection rates are higher than those we can see in some parts of Halifax.’

Ms Harkins added: ‘Infection rates in Calderdale are currently increasing faster than in any other borough in the Yorkshire and Humber region.

A 'boots on ground' approach was praised today by Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson (pictured in 2019) after it squashed an outbreak in an area of the city

A ‘boots on ground’ approach was praised today by Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson (pictured in 2019) after it squashed an outbreak in an area of the city

‘There’s no evidence at all that these higher rates are because people in Calderdale are less likely to observe social distancing than people in other areas of the country; in fact, the opposite is true.’

She said the borough had some of the lowest infection rates in the country during the nationwide lockdown from March.

MANCHESTER MAYOR URGES AGAINST OLDHAM LOCKDOWN 

Greater Manchester’s mayor Andy Burnham has urged ministers not to ‘overreact’ by sending Oldham into a full lockdown.

He called on Number 10 not to introduce ‘knee-jerk measures’, as coronavirus cases continue to increase in some parts of Greater Manchester. 

It comes just days after Oldham council leaders said they were in discussion with the Government about a local lockdown, which could come into force ‘within days’ if the virus wasn’t controlled.

Speaking at a weekly media briefing last night, Mr Burnham said: ‘What worked in Leicester is not necessarily going to be right for Greater Manchester, given the interconnected nature of the city region, and I think we’re going to have to have a very considered approach to this rather than crude measures which become further divisive among different communities and different boroughs. 

‘We need to be proportionate, targeted and focus on measures that are going to work. 

‘That is the thrust of the letter we have sent to Government today – no knee-jerk measures but work with us to get whatever interventions we do right and obviously make them as effective as possible.’ 

Oldham Council said on Wednesday that despite additional measures being put in place in the borough two weeks ago, the number of positive cases has continued to increase.

Mr Burnham agreed that the figures were a ‘major cause for concern’, but he wanted the town to be given another week to allow more time for current restrictions worked. 

‘While figures have been worrying this week we must also not kind of overreact, there is a danger of doing that,’ he said, according to the Manchester Evening News.  

Mr Burnham said a full lockdown could cause ‘serious difficulties’ for people living in the region.

‘You would have to consider what a lockdown would do to an area like Oldham on the Leicester model,’ he said.

‘It could have serious implications for businesses, serious implications for people’s mental health.

‘Why are our poorest communities being hit? It’s because of the inability of many people in those places to self-isolate and this is a real gap in our defences and we’re leaving poorer communities exposed to this virus if we don’t fix this.’  

The information available seemed to indicate that new cases are in people who have been working in essential roles.

‘These are the people who care for us, feed us, serve us and transport us,’ Ms Harkins said.

‘Since lockdown has eased, these are the people who are more likely to come into contact with Covid-19. These are the people who should be celebrated rather than blamed.’ 

Calderdale was due to launch is own contact tracing service today, following health chiefs in Leicester taking the initiative to set-up their own test and trace weeks ago.

Contacts from people who have tested positive for Covid-19, who have not been reached by the national service within 48 hours, will be passed to the public health team and volunteers, the council said.

This team will then try to contact them, by text, phone or door-knocking, to tell them to self isolate. 

A ‘boots on ground’ approach was praised today by Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson after it squashed an outbreak in an area of the city.

Local health teams and volunteers went door-to-door in Princes Park offering tests and advice which ‘ultimately saved lives’, Mr Anderson said. 

The ward, which includes parts of Toxteth and Dingle, accounted for half of the new cases across the city in the previous week. 

A total of 14 cases were confirmed in the area in the week to July 27, rising to 18 the following week, to August 3, the council said.

But in the week up to August 11 the number of confirmed cases in the ward was five, it was revealed today.  

Mr Anderson and director of public health Matt Ashton wrote to all homes in the city to say some restrictions could now be eased.

From tomorrow, overnight socially distanced stays and visits to one other home are to be allowed. 

Community buildings can reopen and outdoor gatherings take place, provided a risk assessment is done, while outdoor meet-ups with care home residents can resume.

Mr Ashton said: ‘What we achieved in Princes Park has shown the value of local teams being able to take quick action and making the best use of the local knowledge that they have.

‘Everyone can certainly feel proud of what has been achieved and knowing that this approach works gives us confidence but it will not allow us to be complacent.

‘We contained an outbreak but the virus has not gone away.

‘My team continue to monitor the numbers of confirmed cases but will still need everyone’s help to make sure that those levels remain low.’

Liverpool Mayor Mr Anderson said: ‘We took a decision to move quickly in Princes Park and that decision has proved to be the right one.

‘Council teams and volunteers literally put in the hard yards to help contain the outbreak and this has ultimately saved lives – not only in Princes Park but also in the wider city.

Regional public health director Debs Harkins Calderdale said: 'I'm sorry to say that I'm writing this today to stress how serious the situation in Calderdale is, and to ask for your help to tackle Covid-19.' Pictured: A promotion funded by the borough council

Regional public health director Debs Harkins Calderdale said: ‘I’m sorry to say that I’m writing this today to stress how serious the situation in Calderdale is, and to ask for your help to tackle Covid-19.’ Pictured: A promotion funded by the borough council

‘My thanks go to them as well as the other community and faith leaders who have worked so hard to keep people safe, and also the residents who have engaged with the action we have taken and turned the outbreak around.’ 

Meanwhile, in Oldham, there were calls for ministers not to ‘overreact’ to rising cases and send the town into a full lockdown.

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham urged Number 10 not to introduce ‘knee-jerk measures’, as coronavirus cases continue to increase in some parts of the region.

It came just days after Oldham council leaders said they were in discussion with the Government about a local lockdown, which officials warned could come into force ‘within days’ if the virus wasn’t controlled. 

Oldham, home to around 235,000 people, currently has the worst infection rate in England, with the number of new cases for every 100,000 people having doubled to 107.5 per week in the past seven days.

PHE – whose figures apply to a different time frame – lists it as the second worst-hit area, behind only Pendle in Lancashire. But Pendle is too small to be included on the rolling NHS daily dashboard, which is kept up-to-date during the week.

Council bosses said 255 new cases of Covid-19 were diagnosed in the week ending August 8, compared with 137 cases the week before.

Manchester City Council leader Sir Richard Leese claimed there was ‘no evidence’ that additional lockdown measures would improve the chances of halting the virus.

But in a letter to Matt Hancock, local chiefs have asked that there was no further easing of restrictions in Greater Manchester this weekend as planned for the rest of England.

Beauty salons will be able to carry out face treatments such as eyebrow threading and facials from Saturday, the Prime Minister announced last night. In addition, indoor soft play areas, indoor theatres, bowling alleys, skating rinks and casinos will be permitted to reopen from this weekend. 

LOCKDOWN RULES: WHAT YOU CAN AND CAN’T DO 

Areas affected: Preston, Greater Manchester (City of Manchester, Trafford, Stockport, Oldham, Bury, Wigan, Bolton, Tameside, Rochdale and Salford), Blackburn with Darwen, Burnley, Hyndburn, Pendle, Rossendale, Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees and Leicester.

You must not: Meet people you do not live with inside a private home or garden, except where you have formed a support bubble (or for other limited exemptions to be specified in law).

Visit someone else’s home or garden even if they live outside of the affected areas.

You should not: Socialise with people you do not live with in other indoor public venues – such as pubs, restaurants, cafes, shops, places of worship, community centres, leisure and entertainment venues, or visitor attractions.

Punishments: Fines, starting at £100 and halving to £50 if paid in the first 14 days but doubling for subsequent offences.

HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE AFFECTED BY THE RULES?

Greater Manchester (including City of Manchester, Trafford, Stockport, Oldham, Bury, Wigan, Bolton, Tameside, Rochdale and Salford): 2,835,686

Blackburn with Darwen: 149,696

Burnley: 88,920

Hyndburn: 81,043

Pendle: 92,112

Rossendale: 71,482

Bradford: 539,776

Calderdale: 211,455

Kirklees: 439,787

Preston: 141,818

Leicester: 329,839

Total: 4,981,614

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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