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The ‘areas of concern’ at risk of local coronavirus lockdown

Emily Cleary
·3-min read
A view of Swindon showing Wroughton in foreground, solar farm, M4 motorway and the sprawling town of Swindon stretching to the horizon including the iconic DMJ Tower.
Swindon in Wiltshire has been flagged as an area at risk of local lockdown as the city continues to see an increase in cases of coronavirus (Getty)

Public Health England’s latest COVID-19 surveillance report, released on Friday, has highlighted eight areas in England as areas of concern.

If the number of coronavirus cases in Swindon, Northampton, Newark and Sherwood, Oadby and Wigston, Sandwell, Wakefield, Bedford and Peterborough is not brought under control they could all face local lockdowns.

The case rate in Swindon has fallen from 46.8 cases per 100,000 people last week to 44.1 cases this week, according to the government watchlist table.

Swindon borough’s director of public health Steve Maddern said efforts to tackle the virus had been ramped up in the past week, with the focus on SN1 and SN2 postcode areas where the majority of new cases have been.

He said: “The government feels assured that at a local level we’re doing everything we could or should be doing to support our population and are giving us a bit of time to just allow those messages to embed in and see what the outcome is in relation to that.

Swindon tops eight areas on a government watchlist that are of 'concern' due to high numbers of coronavirus infections (gov.uk)
Swindon tops eight areas on a government watchlist that are of 'concern' due to high numbers of coronavirus infections (gov.uk)

“Our case rate is reducing, not as fast or as quick as we would like but it is going down.”

The town of Northampton is also under threat of localised restrictions after 300 workers at a sandwich factory tested positive for coronavirus this week.

Greencore, the UK's largest maker of pre-packed sandwiches, took the decision to start "proactively testing" its 2,100 workers as a result of a rise in cases in the town.

Lucy Wightman, director of public health at Northamptonshire County Council, said that 299 workers had so far tested positive.

By Friday 1,300 employees had been tested at the site - with fears that cases could increase by up to 100 as there are still between 300 and 400 tests yet to come back.

Last week, Northamptonshire's chief constable Nick Adderley said the town was "odds-on" for a second lockdown if locals continued to flout health guidelines.

He said: "If we suffer a second lockdown, that would be catastrophic, not only for the economy, but for the freedom of the great people of this county".

Leicester and large parts of northern England already have stricter movement and social restrictions in place.

Coronavirus alert messages on a sign in the centre of Leicester, as a decision is due to be made on whether to lift the lockdown restrictions in the city. (Photo by Joe Giddens/PA Images via Getty Images)
Leicester has had its lockdown restrictions extended until at least early next week (Joe Giddens/PA Images via Getty Images)

The Public Health England report, which is published each week, is important as it gives an accurate snapshot of the prevalence of COVID-19 across the country.

It combines “pillar 2” data (infections in the wider community) with “pillar 1” data (infections of NHS and care workers, as well as patients in hospitals). Pillar 2 data accounted for 75% of cases.

The report said that while cases are declining across the country as a whole, there are areas of “concern” as well as those already experiencing “intervention” in the form of local lockdown measures.

“COVID-19 deaths continue to decline and, while delays to death registrations can impact on the most recent data, there has been no detectable excess mortality since week 24 in any age group or region,” the report read.

The government's weekly report revealed Swindon as an area of concern, just below areas that are already under local lockdowns (Gov.uk)
The government's weekly report revealed Swindon as an area of concern, just below areas that are already under local lockdowns (Gov.uk)

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