Pandemic not over yet: borough has highest infection rates yet with lifting of lockdown looming

Date published: 16 July 2021

“The pandemic is NOT over yet,” Steve Rumbelow, chief executive of Rochdale Borough Council, has warned in his weekly update to councillors ahead of all remaining Covid restrictions being lifted on Monday (19 July).

He said: “We have just recorded our highest ever infection rate of 632 cases per 100,000 people [week ending 11 July]. The rate among people aged over 60 is 154, which is still in the top 20 nationally.

“Data also shows that we had 46 cases among our shielded population last week, a third of which were in Middleton and a quarter in central Rochdale, so coinciding with areas with high cases and low vaccination uptake.

“We believe that our infection rate among people who are shielding is the highest in Greater Manchester. The rate is still highest in our younger people (17 to 18) at around 1,400 and at 1,350 among those aged 11 to 16. Sadly we have also recorded two further covid deaths in the latest figures.”


Local vaccination rates

The number of vaccinations delivered last week was 5,729 (1,083 first and 4,646 second doses), which is above normal but still short of what is required to hit the target of having 85 per cent of the borough’s adult population vaccinated by the end of this month.

On current projections, Mr Rumebelow says this is likely to be about 75 per cent completed by 31 July. He said that there is still a lot of work being done to close this gap, including another round of ‘surge’ vaccination clinics this weekend.

More than 138,600 people in the Rochdale borough have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine and of those, 109,062 people have also received their second dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.

More than 25 local volunteers and elected members have been working with the public health team on street engagement, part of Rochdale’s ‘one last push’ to gather momentum around the vaccination programme and inspire those who have not yet had a jab. This will continue up to Sunday (18 July).


Covid-19 vaccination drive-through clinic


Local vaccination clinics

Saturday, 17 July 2021 8.30am–12 noon - Littleborough Sports Centre, Calderbrook Road, Littleborough OL15 9JN

  • First vaccine - Pfizer for people aged 18 or over
  • Second vaccine - AstraZeneca or Pfizer if 8 weeks or more since your first

Saturday 17 and Sunday 18 July 2021 - 10am-6pm Bowlee Community Park, Heywood Old Road, Middleton M24 4SB

  • Drive-through and walk-in.
  • First vaccine - AstraZeneca or Pfizer for people aged 18 or over.
  • Second vaccine - AstraZeneca or Pfizer for people aged 18 or over who had their first on 22 or 23 May 2021 or anyone else if 8 weeks or more since your first.

Saturday, 17 and Sunday 18 July 2021 - 10am-6pm Bowlee Park Community School, Windermere Road, Middleton M24 4LA

  • First vaccine - Pfizer for people aged 18 or over.
  • Second vaccine - Pfizer for people aged 18 or over who had their first on 22 or 23 May 2021 or anyone else if 8 weeks or more since your first.

Saturday 17 and Sunday 18 July 2021 - 10am-6pm Wardleworth Community Centre Association, South Street, Rochdale OL16 2EP

  • First vaccine - Pfizer for people aged 18 or over.
  • Second vaccine - Pfizer for people aged 18 or over who had their first on 22 or 23 May 2021 or anyone else if 8 weeks or more since your first.

Sunday 18 July 2021 - 10am-6pm Kashmir Youth Project (KYP), 81 Belfield Road, Rochdale OL16 2UP

  • First vaccine - Pfizer for people aged 18 or over.
  • Second vaccine - Pfizer for people aged 18 or over who had their first on 22 or 23 May 2021 or anyone else if 8 weeks or more since your first.

Increasing demand for services and pressures

Mr Rumbelow went on to say that schools, hospitals, doctors’ surgeries and the council are all seeing increasing demand for services and pressures as a result of the “rocketing infection rate.”

He added: “Taking this into account, please bear in mind that certain teams are still heavily invested in responding to the situation, which means their capacity to take on new work and requests is limited.

“Acute services say they are continuing to see increases in hospitalisations. Hospitals are still also dealing with lots of non-covid work and affected by large numbers of staff having to isolate at home. The people being admitted are now younger than in previous stages of the pandemic and there is a difference in symptoms with more gastro and cold-like issues being noticed.

“Primary care are also seeing increases in demand and GP practices are contacting patients to say that there will be no immediate change to the way they see people after 19 July when restrictions end.”

Doctors across the North West say they are noticing more cases of a respiratory illness that affects children. Respiratory Syncytial Virus, as it is known, is usually mild but appears to be having a greater effect, possibly because children have not been mixing with other children as much and therefore have less immunity.

Understandably with so many children having to isolate, there has been a continued reduction in attendance in local schools. The average this week was 65 per cent compared with 73 per cent the week before. The latest figure is 16 per cent below the average for England. There are now a significant number of schools where multiple bubbles are home schooling.

Mr Rumbelow added: “We are also still seeing high numbers of referrals coming into children’s social care.”

Aldi vouchers are being distributed to more than 7,000 of the borough’s poorest families and should be delivered by 23 July.

The vouchers are to cover the summer holiday period and a second round will commence in August. As well as this councillors have agreed to fund membership of food clubs and provide funding to the clubs themselves.

A letter explaining that this will be the final round is being sent with the vouchers.

Regarding the adult care sector, locally, five care homes are currently closed due to covid outbreaks, which includes transmission among residents as well as staff. Like other organisations, home care providers are struggling with the number of staff having to isolate. Encouragingly, there has been a recent increase in care home staff vaccination numbers and there is now only one home with less than 50 per cent staff take-up.

Recent announcements about foreign holidays may also inspire more to come forward.


The council has provided businesses with signage to help keep staff and customers safe


Local business

The council is contacting all local businesses, including hospitality, to advise them to continue to follow covid-safe practices. Businesses have been asked to revisit their risk assessments and consider all their work activities in light of the stage four release.

While Covid regulations cease on 19 July, duties under health and safety legislation remain and they need to take all reasonable measures to safeguard employees and others.

“Businesses must take all reasonable measures and so if there is close contact working in enclosed environments, we recommend they continue to provide and use face coverings.

“Businesses also need to consider how, if their staff are coming into contact with people, how they protect their workers and the public,” Mr Rumbelow noted.

Given the level of infection rates the council and CCG have advised staff that it remains cautious about bringing people back into workplaces. To this end, the current arrangements for working from home and hybrid working will be maintained.

The Covid safe practises in all council buildings will also be maintained and reviewed again in September.

The restart grant opportunity is coming to an end with just five payments pending. When those are completed, the council will have issued around 94 per cent of its allocation, which is more than £8million.

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