High Peak lockdown fears increase after sharp rise in Covid-19 cases

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The rate of Covid-19 infections in the High Peak continues to surge above the national average and it remains the outlier in the county, though five boroughs are now above the national level of 27 per 100,000 people.

The jump in cases in High Peak during the week of September 18 to September 24 has been linked to an outbreak at nearby Tameside General Hospital.

However, the High Peak’s higher number of cases per 100,000 people (55) remains low and is far lower than hotspots with reintroduced restrictions, such as neighbouring Tameside (153).

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Over the week of September 18 to September 24, High Peak saw the highest number of new cases in Derbyshire, followed by Amber Valley (48) and Bolsover (45).

High Peak has seen a surge in Covid-19 cases in the last weekHigh Peak has seen a surge in Covid-19 cases in the last week
High Peak has seen a surge in Covid-19 cases in the last week

And Dean Wallace, director of public health for Derbyshire County Council, said High Peak is an area of concern.

But he stressed that there was still time for residents to turn the situation around and avoid local lockdown but this must happen fast and social distancing, face mask and hand hygiene measures need to be consistently followed.

And he added that recent announcements from the government’s chief scientific and medical officers were a ‘timely and stark reminder that we are in the midst of a pandemic’.

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Mr Wallace said he was concerned that residents were ‘getting fatigued with the rules’ and that ‘if we don’t stop some of this now we are in for a really bad winter’

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He said: “Derbyshire county is following the national pattern, is on the same trajectory as the national picture but with a slower rate of infection.

"Derbyshire is big, if you divide it down into its districts you see a lot of variation.

“High Peak is trending higher and above the national average, whereas the Derbyshire Dales is lower.

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“We are concerned about the High Peak and specifically the area around Glossop area.

"There are a sporadic number of cases there that are not easily linked together.

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“It could be community spread and could be linked to travel.

"We are also seeing cases in the Buxton area increase in rates.

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“In the past few days we have seen the High Peak position improve slightly but it is still out of kilter with the rest of the county.”

Mr Wallace said the High Peak could still avoid local lockdown and would not be drawn on whether this was inevitable if case numbers continued to increase.

He said: “If over the next few weeks people follow the guidance and we can trace the contacts, we can stop local restrictions from happening, because we did it before.

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“We have still got time to turn this around. It is the local effort and response that is required.

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"If people respond to our calls for testing and respond to our contact tracing calls we can avoid a lockdown.

“Local people, boots on the ground, posting leaflets and talking to people, people calling from local phone numbers and email addresses makes a world of difference.

“Keeping in touch with people and getting soft intelligence and helping people struggling to self-isolate get their prescription are things which have helped areas such as Leicester, we have learned that from their lockdown.

“We are trying to do as much of that work as we are able to avoid becoming an area of national interest.

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“There are additional powers that we can use and we will use them if we have to use them, just like with the vegan festival (in Riddings in Amber Valley, which the council used new coronavirus laws to ban).

“If what we have at the moment continues and it continues to be community transmission then we would be looking at reducing contact between households and if it was certain workplaces we would restrict those.

“There is no discernible pattern at the moment and I wouldn’t want to crystal ball gaze too much at this point.

"Hopefully we can stave it off again.

“It would be at the behest of national government really, we would lose local control and if the transmission is in the community it may see a ban on households meeting.

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"It is much better that we work together to avoid that and more serious measures being brought in in later weeks.

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People say the cases aren’t translating into hospital admissions but those typically track three to four weeks behind, so the hospital beds we are seeing filled now will have had the disease three or four weeks before.

“Those admissions are already happening and in two, three or four weeks time we will see those step up.

"If left unchecked those numbers will become bigger and bigger.”