Health chief's warning to take Covid-19 seriously despite cases 'trend downwards' in Corby and Kettering

"It's good news but the warnings are still very stark" says Northamptonshire's Public Health chief

By Kevin Nicholls
Tuesday, 8th September 2020, 1:11 pm

Numbers of new Covid-19 cases in Corby and Kettering are trending downwards just days after the towns were declared "areas of concern."

But Northamptonshire's Public Health Director Lucy Wightman warns it still needs a "sustained effort" to prevent the possibility of local lockdowns in parts of Northamptonshire.

And she pointed to last night's warning by England's Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jonathan Van-Tam that the public need to start taking the pandemic “very seriously again” or face a “bumpy ride over the next few months”.

Mrs Wightman said: "Numbers and trends in Corby and Kettering are looking positive they are downward and remaining so in the last few days.

"Corby is now down to 13th from seventh in terms of number of cases per 100,000 of the population as a seven-day average.

"That is good news but Jonathan's warning is very stark and we're not out of the woods and this is what we have been saying for a number of weeks now.

"As we've seen, we can get on top of one area in Northampton only for cases to rise elsewhere. So it's going to be a sustained effort managed not only by us but by the public.

Numbers of new Covid-19 cases are trending downwards in Corby just days after the town was made "an area of concern"

"We expect to see peaks and troughs, particularly as different elements of the community reopen — schools and universities, for example.

"But what we need to do is make sure we can turn that trend round quickly. If there isn't evidence of that then we would be looking at local lockdown measures."

Mr Van-Tam described recent national rises in the number of cases to nearly 3,000 per day — mostly among those aged 17 to 21 — as “a signal we have got to change this now”.

He added: "People have relaxed too much. Now is the time for us to re-engage and realise that this is a continuing threat to us.”

A testing site as set up in Kettering Market Square following a spike in coronavirus cases

Caerphilly was ordered into a local lockdown last night despite rising numbers in the Welsh town not appearing as bad as in our county, where Northampton is still listed as an "area of enhanced support" following an outbreak of 300-plus cases at sandwich-makers Greencore last month.

Mrs Wightman acknowledged the mixed messages for different parts of the UK can make it tough to understand the issues.

She said: "There doesn't seem to be hard and fast rules being applied to which areas have lockdowns.

"It's not all about statistics but also the level of confidence the Government and Secretary of State have in how those issues are being managed in each area.

Northamptonshire's Public Health director Lucy Wightman

"We've had three areas on the watchlist and not gone into lockdown.

"At the minute not in a local lockdown position but Jonathan Van-Tam's message was very clear that if people don't start to take this more seriously we will be looking at measures like that, particularly in Northamptonshire where we've got three areas already on that watchlist.

"Our messages about testing is clearly getting through because we're seeing the biggest increases in testing in England, particularly in the younger age group. What we're not seeing is taking precautions to stop that onward spread.

"That's why we have been reiterating the need for hand hygiene, only socialising with those you really need to, working from home if you can and maintaining social distancing when you do need to go out and about."