Calderdale on coronavirus “Watch List” & what the council is doing in response

Debs Harkins, Director of Public Health at Calderdale Council put out the following information on Thursday 23 July, 2020:

This evening the government has announced that Calderdale will be on the national coronavirus watch list.

The criteria for being on the list is based on a number of indicators:

  • The seven day rate per 100,000, which peaked at 25 on 15th July although it appears to be lower in the most recent data
  • The increase in the seven day rate over the previous two weeks (Calderdale had the fourth largest increase in England)
  • The exceedance rate, which shows that the number of cases in Calderdale residents is higher than expected based on our previous trends
  • The testing rate, which has increased by more than 60% since the beginning of July
  • The proportion of tests that are positive, despite testing increasing. This is over 3% compared to a national average of 1%

There are three levels on this national watch list:

  1. Intervention, which only Leicester and parts of Leicestershire are included on,
  2. Enhanced Support, and
  3. Area of Concern, which Calderdale, Bradford, Kirklees and Wakefield are on.

Although Calderdale will be under the media spotlight because of this, I want to reassure you that partners in the borough have robust plans in place and are working hard together to tackle the virus. Many of you are supporting our efforts and if it wasn’t for all your hard work, we wouldn’t be able to tell the government such a compelling story about the work we are doing.

Working together with communities and residents is at the heart of our approach and, as the virus is still with us in Calderdale, we can all help by:

  • continuing to keep at least two metres away from people outside our households wherever possible
  • washing our hands with soap and water often, for at least 20 seconds
  • avoiding touching our face unless our hands are clean and following the ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ guidance to help keep ourselves and others safe
  • staying at home and booking a test as soon as possible if we have COVID-19 symptoms, within five days of the symptoms starting
  • if contacted by the Test and Trace service and told we have been in contact with a person who has tested positive, following their advice and self-isolating for 14 days
  • wearing a face covering on public transport, in taxis, when visiting a hospital, in shops and supermarkets and whenever we are indoors with people who are not part of our household or bubble
  • limiting contact with people outside our household or bubble as much as possible and especially avoiding crowded places and large gatherings

Further information and some FAQs about what being on the national watch list means are available on the Council website. Further updates will be published on the Council website.

Why are the rates in Calderdale higher than other areas?

There are a number of reasons why the number of positive cases in Calderdale is high at the moment.

When we look at information from the NHS Test and Trace programme, we can see that each person who tests positive for COVID-19 in Calderdale has, on average, a higher number of ‘contacts’ than people living in other areas. Contacts are people that they may have passed the virus on to. Some of this is because the people who test positive for COVID-19 live in larger households, or it could be because they have not been social distancing.

COVID-19 rates are currently higher than average in most of our neighbouring areas. We know that Calderdale’s economy is closely aligned with neighbouring areas, meaning that people travel to other local towns and cities to work, shop and visit family and friends. Councils, health services and other partners in West Yorkshire are working closely together on our plans to contain the spread of the virus.

The safety of our entire community always comes first. We understand the issues in Calderdale and are doing everything we can to proactively address them to reduce local infection rates.

What is the Council doing?

We are working with our local partner organisations to protect residents from COVID-19 and to prevent and manage outbreaks. To find out what we are doing, see Calderdale’s local Outbreak Prevention and Control Plan.

Working together with local communities is central to our approach. We are currently engaging with communities in the Park and Warley wards, where we have our highest rates at the moment. As well as this, we are providing more testing centres across the borough so that it is easy for people to get tested if they have symptoms.

Since the start of July we have increased our local testing by more than 60%, which is a really positive step forward. Testing is an important first line of defence in containing and controlling the spread of the virus, which we will be living with in our communities for some time.

We are delivering a care home COVID-19 prevention plan to protect those who are most vulnerable. This includes regularly testing all care home staff and residents, whether or not they have symptoms.

We are also supporting people who work in other higher-risk jobs, such as taxi drivers and shop workers, to help them stay safe at work.

We have identified workplaces that are at higher risk of outbreaks because of their practices, such as food processing plants, and we are visiting them to offer advice and support.

We are working closely with schools, nurseries and places of worship to ensure the best possible protection for their staff and the wider community.

What happens next?

As we are increasing COVID-19 testing it is likely we’ll see further increases in the number of cases in Calderdale for some time.

We are keeping our local situation and infection rate under regular review. If rates continue to rise, we will take appropriate action, but we hope that by asking local people to keep following social distancing and hygiene guidance, we will reduce the risk of the virus spreading.

For the latest local data on COVID-19 cases in Calderdale and some FAQs on this, visit our website.

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