‘We are desperately trying to get case rates down’ – Tamworth’s Covid-19 lead

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Tamworth’s Covid-19 lead admits bosses are “desperately” trying to get case rates down in the town.

Tamworth Borough Council issued a warning on Tuesday as cases continue to rise with 345 positive cases recorded in the seven days to November 16 and an infection rate of 409.4 per 100,000 of the population compared to the national rate of 255.5.

Sadly, Tamworth had also recorded six deaths in the last seven days (within 28 days of a positive Covid test).

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Speaking exclusively to Birmingham Live, Councillor Jeremy Oates, Tamworth’s Covid lead, admitted: “I am concerned at the case rate and I am concerned it is still increasing. We are desperately trying to get the rate down as much as possible and reduce infections.

“What we are finding is its prevalence is peaking in different areas and there is no real pattern to that so far. It is popping up left, right and centre at different rates in different weeks.

“We are not sure why, there is population and testing variances. The number one ward three weeks ago could be seventh on the list now.”

While cases continue to rise Cllr Oates, who says he is ‘optimistic’ about the vaccine but acknowledges ‘there is a logistical challenge so it is not going to be a silver bullet’, does believe they are plateauing: “The figures are still creeping up but not at the rate before we went up a tier.

“The week before we went into lockdown we increased by 43 cases per 100,000 and the week since lockdown we have increased by 45 cases per 100,000 but the week before we went into High alert we went up by 120 per 100,000.

“We were on a massively steep incline. We then introduced the new tier and lockdown which seems to have arrested that.

“The testing rate in Staffordshire is slightly higher than the national average so we are testing more cases and as a result we are finding more cases.

“I am confident that the rate will come down but I don’t know how much by December 2. It may be that we are on the same rate as we went in but at least we are not increasing at the rate we were.”

Cllr Oates insists the plan is very much still based on returning to tiers and while which one we enter is not yet known, they are planning for all scenarios.

“As far as I am aware they are still targeting December 2. We don’t know what tier we will come out into and as a result of that we are discussing and making plans for how we will respond,” he revealed.

“The reason we are doing that is tier two has a set of mandatory restrictions and tier three, the highest, has a set of core restrictions and then options which the local authorities can negotiate with the Government on.

“We are actively having discussions as to what restrictions would:

  • A work in Tamworth
  • B Be complied with and
  • C Have the best benefit across the board.

“This is not just about Covid-19, this is about the economy, mental health, physical fitness. If you use gyms as an example they are currently closed but some people think they need them for their pyhysical and mental health so we are literally going through the list of sectors and putting together the plan as to what we would like to see. We have not come to any conclusions yet.

“By the end of this week we will have our preferred position but obviously as things continue to change we will continue to review that. This lockdown has given us time to think and we are using that time.”

He added: “What we have all got to do is make sensible decisions. I know supermarkets are open but do we really need to go to them everyday? Can we get shopping online or can we bulk buy? It is about us all making that extra bit of effort and thought into what we do and if we all make that extra effort our reward will be more freedoms like going to the pub.

“We want to eventually get to as close to normal as we possibly can. We have got our sights on Christmas and what is going to happen with it. We have concerns on the impact of Christmas on the virus, we have concerns about the impact on people complying to any restrictions. There is quite a mixed feel and discussions are going on.

“We have also been put as a pilot for lateral flow testing. This will start as soon as we can and give people a result within 30 minutes.”





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