High infection caused by ‘widespread community transmission’, says director of public health
Date published: 13 October 2020
Andrea Fallon, Director of Public Health for Rochdale
Rochdale is currently battling the second highest infection rate in Greater Manchester due to ‘widespread community transmission’, the borough’s director of public health has said.
In the week to 9 October there were 363.7 positive cases per 100,000 people – more than anywhere in the region bar Manchester.
Heywood has emerged as a new hotspot with cases seeing steep increases in the last two weeks while central areas such as Kingsway also continue to see high numbers.
Andrea Fallon, Rochdale’s director of public health, says the council is ‘less focused on hyperlocal data’ given how widespread the disease is both inside and outside the borough.
Rather than being linked to specific outbreaks in workplaces, schools, or care homes, the virus appears to be spreading via people and households mixing with one another, she said.
Data from Public Health England identified just 59 cases across the whole borough in the last week where two or more cases could be traced back to a single setting.
Ms Fallon said the numbers did not support the theory that high numbers were caused by outbreaks in a limited number of places.
“We can’t say that these numbers are caused by outbreaks in a small number of settings,” she said.
“They relate to widespread community transmission linked to individuals and households mixing with each other rather than any specific large outbreak.
“So we are less focused on hyperlocal data now transmission rates are so high as it doesn’t help our strategy and cases are widespread within and outside of the borough.”
As with the rest of Greater Manchester, Rochdale will be subject to ‘Tier Two’ or 'high alert' restrictions from Wednesday.
This means residents still cannot meet indoors with anyone outside their household or support bubble. That includes venues such as bars and restaurants as well as people’s homes.
Meeting friends or family outside in a garden or other outdoor space will be allowed, provided ‘the rule of six’ is adhered to.
Residents will still have to wear a mask by law in public settings and on public transport.
Ms Fallon has urged people to keep to the rules in order to bring the infection rate down.
She said: “We continue to ask everyone to protect themselves and their loved ones by following the latest measures.
“The pattern of transmission can be broken if residents limit social contact, maintain social distancing and hand hygiene at all times.”
Nick Statham, Local Democracy Reporter
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