Preston is ‘on the radar’ for future local lockdown measures
Written by Skywave Radio News on July 31, 2020
The director of public health for Lancashire has warned that Preston is ‘on the radar’ when it comes to future local lockdown measures – with the city’s local coronavirus response plan activated as recently as yesterday.
The revelation was made in a Lancashire Resilience Forum press conference held this morning in response to five East Lancashire boroughs having local local measures imposed on them from first thing this morning (July 31).
Health Secretary Matt Hancock abruptly announced the news last night on Twitter, placing Blackburn with Darwen, Burnley, Pendle, Rossendale and Hyndburn under tight restrictions.
New restrictions mean that residents in these five areas of Lancashire – as well as all of Greater Manchester, Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees, and Leicester city – cannot meet other households inside or in private gardens. They also cannot meet in the likes of pubs, restaurants, cafes, and community centres.
In the press conference, Dr Sakthi Karunanithi, Director of Public Health at Lancashire County Council, said the situation with Preston is “on our radar”, adding that “infections are increasing” across the city.
In the seven days to July 26, Preston’s infection rate was 21.2 cases per 100,000 people. This was up from 9.9 cases per 100,000 people in the week before.
For context, Rossendale – which is included under the new local lockdown measures – has an infection rate of 5.6 cases per 100,000 people.
In England, the average rate of infection is around 14.6 cases per 100,000 people.
Dr Sakthi said: “Preston is another one to watch. It looks as if the infection rate goes anywhere near 20 [cases] per 100,000 population there is a response. There are more restrictions put in place. But it remains to be seen and it is in our hands – quite literally.”
Dr Sakthi also revealed that Preston’s local coronavirus response plan has been activated as of yesterday, with extra testing now taking place to put the city above the national average. Currently, around 112 people per 100,000 people are being tested for the virus.
The average rate of testing in England is currently just over 99 tests per 100,000 people.
The positivity rate for Preston – the percentage taking a test confirmed as a positive case – is also at 2.5%. For context, the national rate for England is around 1%.
“But the application of further restriction in terms of households meeting each other – legal restrictions – is that corridor where with the surrounding areas there needs to be a consistent approach [as in] the eastern part of Lancashire,” he added.
Angie Ridgewell, Chief Executive Officer at Lancashire County Council and head of the Lancashire Resilience Forum, said: “In Lancashire and the LRF we are trying to get ahead of the game. If we start to see a worrying change we want to active local plans much earlier to stop increases and local lockdowns.”
For a re-cap of the press conference with the Lancashire Resilience Forum, see our live blog here.