The naming of Stoke-on-Trent as an ‘area of concern’ for coronavirus cases was to be expected and reinforces the need for us all to be vigilant against the disease, according to city leaders.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council has reacted to the news from government today (Friday) that the city is on a national watch list of areas. The government announces each week areas of the country that fall into three categories, the most severe being ‘in intervention’, where local and national leaders can enforce restrictions such as local lockdowns; ‘in receipt of enhanced support’, where a range of extra resources are put in place for additional testing and contact tracing; and ‘areas of concern’, where authorities, Public Health England and the NHS Test and Trace service work together to target activities in particular areas, and are monitored nationally.*
The data used by government in its watch list is based on the previous two weeks of data – 10-16 August and 17-23 August, at a time when a local increase in cases in the Normacot area of the city and a large increase in testing across Stoke-on-Trent, was seen as a ‘tipping point’ in cases in the city.
Council leader Abi Brown said: “Being named nationally as an area of concern is serious. It reinforces the need for us all to be extra vigilant against this horrible disease.
“Last Thursday saw a spike of 84 positive cases in the previous seven days – the highest total of new cases in the city in a seven-day period. It also followed an increase in testing, where 593 people were swabbed for the virus over three days at a local testing station we put in the heart of the community in Normacot, and where more than a thousand people across the city were tested in that period at the Stoke City FC (South Car Park) regional testing centre.
“The announcement by government today takes into account this spike in cases, and is therefore to be expected. I have been speaking to MPs and to government on this. Being named an area of concern does not mean we face a local lockdown, and does not come with any sanctions. But what it does mean is that the threat of this virus is very real. We are being watched by government, and our response as a city to the coronavirus is being monitored closely. We continue to work extremely closely with health partners and, as has been seen in Normacot, this targeted work is having a clear, positive impact.
“However, as a city, if we all – residents, businesses, communities – don’t continue to do all we can do to stop the spread of the virus then we face some very tough decisions in the coming days and weeks.
“We are entering a bank holiday this weekend. It is not the time to disregard the very clear public health guidelines that are there to protect us all. No-one wants a local lockdown. We all have to continue to act responsibly now, so that our destiny remains in our own hands.”
For more information and advice on the coronavirus (Covid-19) please visit Public Health England:
https://publichealthmatters.blog.gov.uk/2020/01/23/wuhan-novel-coronavirus-what-you-need-to-know/ and the NHS: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/.
All residents are reminded about the critical importance of regular handwashing with soap and hot water for 20 seconds. The significance of this action cannot be underestimated. If residents have symptoms, please get tested. All residents must continue to follow the guidance of wash hands, cover face and make space.