Coronvirus rise spreading into north Northumberland from hotspots as county sees cases ‘increase exponentially’
Northumberland’s director of public health called for a collective effort to protect the vulnerable, as she issued a stark warning about the ‘exponential increase’ of Covid-19.
Liz Morgan’s update to the full meeting of the county council on Wednesday, September 23, came as the authority launched an online dashboard, enabling residents to access the latest data on coronavirus cases, including by ward.
“If I had been talking to you four days ago, I would have said that in the fortnight up to September 19, we had nearly 300 cases and that’s 10 times the number of cases we had a month prior to that,” she said.
“Speaking to you today, we have had nearly 300 cases in the last week, so this infection is increasing exponentially in our community.
“There is some analysis which suggests that the rate at which cases are increasing in Northumberland is one of the highest in England.”
She added: “We have got widespread community transmission and although the rates are still highest in the south-east of the county, in Ashington, Bedlington and Cramlington, we are seeing cases spread up the coast and along the A69 corridor, and we are seeing cases popping up in our most rural communities and that is obviously a real concern for us.
“We are also seeing an increase in Pillar 1 tests, which are those done in hospitals, and that increase reflects both the increased prevalence of infection in the community, but also the increasing admissions for people with Covid-19.
“Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust will tell you that they have some very, very unwell patients in their hospital with Covid-19 at the moment. Ultimately, increases in admissions lead to increases in deaths.
“We are seeing a significant impact in schools, so we’ve currently got 31 schools with positive cases, we’ve got one school which has multiple year groups off because of children who are self-isolating in a bubble.
“I think the impact that is having on parents is significant, although it is lesser because of the lobbying done in the North East and the exemption on informal childcare was put in place, so parents can continue to use that to support children around accessing schools.”
Ms Morgan continued: “We are at a critical time with this infection, we can get back control of this virus, but it has to be a collective effort that we all commit to.
“The problem is that if I as an individual take a risk then that risk is actually translated to all the people I have contact with and some of those will be the people we are really trying to protect.
“I’m talking about older people, about those people who were shielded, who are clinically vulnerable, people living in care homes; those are the people we most want to protect but are most likely to come to harm through transmission in our community.
“There are things we need to and must do as individuals – adopting social-distancing rules, being consistent in wearing face coverings, washing hands – that will reduce our individual risk.
“We can also reduce the risk by abiding by the legislation on households mixing, but we also need to be very careful about who we socialise with generally and the recommendation is that we restrict that to our own household, outside of the work environment.”
The dashboard featuring information on positive cases in Northumberland can be found at https://tinyurl.com/y6zu2a8u