Northamptonshire's Covid-19 care home outbreaks 'no cause for concern' says public health boss

Lucy Wightman said this morning the outbreaks are small and being identified through proactive testing

By Sarah Ward
Thursday, 27th August 2020, 2:19 pm
Updated Thursday, 27th August 2020, 2:20 pm
Lucy Wightman is Northamptonshire's Director of Public Health.
Lucy Wightman is Northamptonshire's Director of Public Health.

The county’s director of public health has said current Covid-19 outbreaks in a number of Northamptonshire care homes are ‘no cause for concern’.

According to latest data there are outbreaks at 11 care homes and 62 cases – however the Director of Public Health Lucy Wightman has said the outbreaks have been picked up by proactive testing of staff and residents.

The county has suffered some high profile outbreaks in care homes during the pandemic – with 16 residents dying from the virus after an outbreak at Temple Court in Kettering.

There was also a major outbreak at Cheaney House in Desborough.

In total 151 Northamptonshire care home residents have died since the pandemic began, with the most recent death recorded on August 17.

The majority of deaths happened during April.

An outbreak is classed as two or more people having the virus at the same time and place.

At this morning’s (Aug 27) Covid oversight board meeting Lucy Wightman said: “We are proactively swabbing all of our care homes routinely.

“So that’s all staff and all residents on a routine dependent, on the setting, monthly or more frequent basis depending, on the level of risk. So we are finding proactively as opposed to random cases popping up. We are finding asymptomatic residents and staff.

“Just to assure people there is nothing to be concerned about with regards to our current position for outbreaks in care homes.

With that routine swabbing you quite often will find that you have one or two people within any one setting testing asymptomatically positive at any one time.

“What that is helping us do is making sure those people isolate and making sure the infection prevention control advice is being adhered to within that setting. At the moment there is no cause for concern and all of the outbreaks are very small numbers at any one time.”

However Covid-19 is a cause for concern in the county as a whole with Northamptonshire’s covid rate is currently significantly above the national average and cases have been rising for the past six weeks.

Northampton borough is currently a government area of intervention and health bosses say the town’s spike in positive cases is largely down to the major outbreak at the Greencore sandwich factory on the Moulton Park industrial estate.

Health secretary Matt Hancock told the factory to close last Friday, however the factory has now started production again with a small number of staff who were not working at the factory at the time it closed.

Those workers are now having to isolate for 14 days and could face fines if they break the order.

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