MP asks Health Secretary to act over Northamptonshire's "stubbornly high" Covid rates
"I am absolutely up for all measures that might help to get it down, including mass testing," says Matt Hancock
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has pledged to take action over "stubbornly high" Covid-19 rates in parts of Northamptonshire.
Case rates in Northampton, Corby, Wellingborough and Kettering are all significantly higher than the England average.
Wellingborough's Tory MP Peter Bone raised the issue in the House of Commons yesterday, asking the Government to consider a mass testing programme similar to one used to drive down infections in Merseyside before Christmas.
Mr Hancock admitted: "I am aware of and also worried about the continued high rates of infections in north Northants, which has not had a particularly bad pandemic thus far but now, at this point, seems to have a stubbornly high infection rate.
"I am absolutely up for all measures that might help to get it down, including mass testing.
"I will take that idea away, work on it with colleagues and return to my honourable friend and his north Northants colleagues with a proposal."
Mr Bone said: "In north Northamptonshire, we have a particular problem with Covid infections — we just cannot get them down.
"In Wellingborough, we are 25 per cent above the national average, in Kettering 50 per cent above it and, in Corby, more than double the national average, with the highest infection rate in the country."
Northampton's rate is also more than one-third higher than the national average. according to the Government's latest figures.
Figures have fallen by around half across the county during the latest lockdown but remain among the highest in England.
Corby currently has 444.5 new positive tests per 100,000 people compared to a national average of 199.4,
Northampton's number is 310.3, Kettering's 320.3 and 262.2 in Wellingborough.
Two lateral flow testing centres — similar to those deployed in Liverpool when rates jumped to over 700 in November — opened in Northampton and Corby last month to help identify those who may have the virus but don't know it.
Tests deliver results in around half-an-hour for anyone without Covid-19 symptoms, and health bosses are advising people still working during lockdown to get tested on a weekly basis to help to reduce the spread of the virus.
Slots must be booked online in advance HEREand priority is currently given to workers in health or social care, transport, education, retail, food production, warehousing, public sector workers and construction.
Dr Rhosyn Harris, Consultant in Public Health at Northamptonshire County Council said: “Asymptomatic testing (testing people without symptoms) enables us to find the ‘one in three’ people who may carry the virus with no symptoms, who may otherwise spread the virus to family members and colleagues, which could inevitably lead to hospital admissions or even deaths."
Find more information on lateral flow device testing and guidance on how to book a testing slot, click here. There are some slots available today.