Public health chief responds to local lockdown fears
By Simon Allin, Local Democracy Reporter
A public health chief has played down the risk of a local lockdown in response to fears some London boroughs could have restrictions re-imposed.
Dr Will Maimaris, director of public health at Haringey Council, said there are “no community outbreaks of Covid-19 in the borough” and the overall number of cases is “very low”.
Leicester recently became the first area to have a local lockdown imposed following a spike in Covid cases in the city, with non-essential shops closed and people advised to only undertake “essential” travel.
It led to fears boroughs such as Haringey and Enfield could be next following newspaper reports they had seen a rise in Covid-19 cases.
But Dr Maimaris said: “We currently have no community outbreaks of Covid in Haringey. The overall number of cases is low, with around one new case a day on average.
“These numbers have been fluctuating slightly from week to week within the realms of what we would expect. However, this is from a very low base, so overall risk of being exposed to Covid in Haringey is much lower than in some other parts of the country, which are showing higher levels of transmission.
“We must all work to keep it this way by following public health guidance and acting with care and caution. We continue to monitor the situation and are working closely with our partner agencies and other parts of the public health system, as part of our Covid outbreak management plan, to prevent and manage local outbreaks of Covid-19.”
The Daily Express reported that figures from Public Health England showed the number of new coronavirus cases in Haringey rose from three between June 13 and 19 to six the following week. In Enfield, cases rose from three to four.
Leicester saw new cases climb from 39 to 41 during the same period, the newspaper reported.
But in a speech to the House of Commons on Monday (June 29), Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the infection rate in Leicester was “three times higher than the next highest city”.
Mr Hancock said when an “outbreak” of the virus is spotted, “a range of local and national actions may be needed”. At outbreak is defined “when Public Health England or the new Joint Biosecurity Centre identifies clusters (of Covid-19) that are linked to one another”.
Councils have been told to draw up local management plans to tackle possible outbreaks in areas such as schools and care homes.
Professor Kevin Fenton, London regional director for Public Health England said: “The number of new cases of coronavirus is under close, active surveillance across the country and small fluctuations day by day are to be expected.
“The increases in some boroughs that have been reported are mainly sporadic and are being uncovered as we scale up testing and contact tracing activity across the city. Importantly, the overall levels of coronavirus in London remain low and steady.
“We’re working closely with all local authorities to prepare for and manage any potential local clusters and outbreaks and our epidemiological analysis will play an important role identifying if there is a significant sustained increase in the community.
“As we carefully emerge from lockdown, it is important now more than ever that Londoners continue to follow government advice on social distancing, self-isolation, wearing face coverings, and practicing good hand hygiene, in order to keep the number of new cases in London on its way down.
“If you have a new continuous cough, a high temperature or a loss of, or change to your sense of smell or taste, stay at home and arrange a test immediately.”
Haringey Council’s Covid-19 management plan has been published here.
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