Areas with high coronavirus rates may not be allowed out of lockdown, Northamptonshire health boss fears

'I just cannot see how you can use a blanket approach when you've got such significant variations in areas and we risk putting some of our most vulnerable at risk by doing so'

Friday, 26th February 2021, 5:07 pm
Updated Saturday, 27th February 2021, 10:10 am

Northamptonshire's public health boss is worried some areas will be left behind when the lockdown is lifted if its coronavirus case rates do not improve.

Corby's infection rate remains among the highest in England while areas of Kettering and Wellingborough boroughs and Daventry district reported rises in the number of Covid-19 cases in the most recent set of figures.

Plus the whole county's case numbers are not decreasing as fast as the rest of the country, lockdown breaches are still high and the amount of traffic is increasing.

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Northamptonshire County Council director of public health Lucy Wightman on the weekly virtual coronavirus press conference

Northamptonshire County Council director of public health Lucy Wightman said she is waiting to hear back from Public Health England about whether areas could be held back on March 29, as the risk to the vulnerable may be too great.

"We need to be really vigilant over the coming weeks to ensure that we don't start to see case rates significantly go back up, which could potentially jeopardise our progress in the release from lockdown," she said during a virtual press conference this afternoon (Friday, February 26).

Another 1,273 coronavirus cases were reported from February 15 to 21, just 6.5 per cent lower than the previous week.

Three divisions saw increases in their 14-day rate compared to the previous period: Woodford Halse, Byfield and Staverton, Avondale Grange in Kettering, and Finedon, Isham and Harrowden.

The case rates for all areas of Northamptonshire, except South Northamptonshire and Daventry, were higher than the national average from February 12 to 18.

But Corby's rate of 329.6 cases per 100,000 people is far higher than the county's rate of 177.6 and at least double the England average.

Mrs Wightman said she was 'really concerned' by the figures and fears the government's plan to end the 'stay at home' rule on March 29, could change if improvements are not seen by then.

The head of the county's response to the pandemic does not believe there will be a return to the 'confusing and complex' tier system but warned there are no guarantees the roadmap will be stuck to.

"I just cannot see how you can use a blanket approach when you've got such significant variations in areas and we risk putting some of our most vulnerable at risk by doing so," she said.

Northamptonshire Police issued 150 tickets for coronavirus regulation breaches last weekend and 270 in the past seven days, including a party with 19 attendees in Northampton.

Superintendent Elliot Foskett told the press conference that this is mostly down to households mixing illegally, while traffic numbers have also risen recently.

Parents and guardians were also urged to adhere to the rules when schools fully reopen on March 8, which Mrs Wightman said would undoubtedly cause a rise in Covid-19 cases.

Northampton Borough Council leader Jonathan Nunn said it would be entirely wrong to think the county is 'out the woods yet' and urged people to follow the rules.

"I have the feeling that if we're not careful, we're going to get a bit complacent as I'd like to remind people that the roadmap is a target and it's an aspiration but it's by no means a guarantee," he added.