Rochdale director of public health reassures residents amid local lockdown fears
Date published: 01 July 2020
Rochdale Council says the rise in cases is largely down to one of the country’s first walk-through testing sites opening at Rochdale Town Hall last month
Rochdale’s director of public health has moved to reassure residents amid fears the borough could follow Leicester into a ‘local lockdown’.
Rumours were sparked by Public Health England (PHE) data showing the number of cases per 100,000 people in each area for the week ending 21 June.
The list puts Rochdale fourth on a list of worst hit areas with 53.6 cases – only trailing Leicester (140.2), Bradford (69.4) and Barnsley (54.7), fuelling fears restrictions could be tightened.
While not on the same scale as Leicester, figures have steadily been creeping up in the borough over the last few weeks.
However, Andrea Fallon, director of public health at Rochdale Council, says the rise in cases is largely down to one of the country’s first walk-through testing sites opening at the town hall last month.
This has led to a ‘sizeable increase’ increase in the number of people testing positive in the borough.
She said: “Since it opened on 8 June it has tested over 800 people that may not have otherwise been tested. This will have had an impact on the number of positive test results as we have found more cases than we would have been able to do without the testing site.
“Residents should be reassured that the numbers we have seen recently are still well below those in Leicester where lockdown measures are being reintroduced.
“In Leicester, (health secretary) Matt Hancock said that there were 135 positive cases per 100,000 and we had 28.8 so the comparisons are misleading and unhelpful [28.8 per 100,000 as of 30 June].
“What local councils do need urgently is for PHE to share the data from so called ‘Pillar 2 testing – the testing done centrally by government – so that we can take action to help to ensure that Rochdale does not get to where Leicester is now.”
She continued: “We really want people to get tested if they have symptoms so that we can support them and trace the people they come into contact with to reduce the risk of the disease being spread.”
Ms Fallon also stressed the importance of residents continuing to follow the national advice aimed at stopping and controlling the spread of coronavirus in order to ‘keep each other safe’.
“That means staying at home as much as possible, working from home if you can, limiting contact with other people, keeping your distance if you go out and washing your hands regularly,” she added.
Leicester became the first place in the country to be forced back into lockdown this week, due to fears over its soaring infection rate.
Non-essential shops have been told to close their doors while schools have again shut for most pupils.
The city will also not join the rest of the country in relaxing restrictions on pubs, restaurants and salons from this weekend.
Nick Statham, Local Democracy Reporter
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