Following a doubling of the new COVID-19 cases within Cumbria over the last week, new public health advice for the county has now been introduced.
By law in England people must not meet indoors or outdoors in groups of more than six people. In addition, from today people living in Cumbria are being strongly advised that groups of six should include people from no more than TWO households.
Colin Cox, Cumbria’s Director of Public Health, said:
“The number of COVID-19 cases in the county has doubled in a week and hospitalisations are increasing. But we are not yet in the position of other areas in the north west and we have a small window of opportunity to act to slow the spread, protect our communities and local economy, and avoid becoming the next area in local lockdown.
“We know that limiting contact between households can reduce transmission. The ‘two-households’ advice we’re issuing today doesn’t have the force of law behind it, but we’re calling on everyone living in Cumbria to take it seriously and act accordingly. This is about local people taking responsible, proportionate, action to protect themselves, their families and their communities from this disease.
“We can see now that the virus is spreading through the county with increasing speed, following the same pattern from the first wave, with almost all districts reporting increased cases. Without action we can expect the number of cases, disruption to schools and businesses, hospitalisations and ultimately deaths to continue to rise. Following the ‘two-households’ advice, alongside hand washing, face coverings and social distancing, can make a difference, but we need everyone to take heed and act.”
The new advice was agreed by local political leaders through the county’s Area Outbreak Board, following recommendations from the multi-agency Health Protection Board. It will be reviewed on an weekly basis by the Health Protection Board.
The new advice is not law and the exemptions that apply to the national ‘Rule of Six’ still apply; exceptions such as for work, or the provision of voluntary or charitable services, registered childcare, education or training, exercise classes, organised outdoor sport or licensed outdoor physical activity, and supervised sporting activity (indoors or outdoors) for under-18s. Full guidance available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-meeting-with-others-safely-social-distancing/coronavirus-covid-19-meeting-with-others-safely-social-distancing
Councillor Stewart Young, Leader of Cumbria County Council and Chair of the Area Outbreak Board, said:
“The rapid increase in cases in recent days is a very clear warning that we are heading into dangerous territory that could result in significant disruptions to people’s lives and further deaths. The additional advice to limit contact to people from no more than two households at a time is a simple step everyone can take to slow the spread of infection. This about everyone making a very small sacrifice to help protect their communities and I encourage everyone to play their part.”
The same advice has been in place for the Barrow Borough Council area since 17 September and remains in place. The Barrow area has now been listed nationally as an “Area of Concern” and become subject to enhanced monitoring by the Joint Biosecurity Centre. The local COVID-19 situation report for Cumbria is available at https://www.cumbria.gov.uk/publichealth/covid19outbreakcontrol.asp
The report shows that :
• A total of 11,358 tests carried out (positive/negative/void results), a slight decrease from the previous week;
• 209 new cases were reported in Cumbria (compared to 109 cases in previous week);
• For the fourth consecutive week Barrow-in-Furness had the greatest number of new cases (+61 new cases), followed by Carlisle (+49 new cases);
• Barrow-in-Furness also had the highest rate of new cases (+61 new cases = 91 new cases per 100k population), well above the national average (England = 57 new cases per 100k);
• The number of new cases increased from the previous week in all Cumbrian districts except Eden, with Carlisle experiencing a particularly large increase;
• The greatest number of new positive cases are those aged 15-29 years, however, cases are increasing across most age groups.
• 19 care homes currently have positive COVID-19 cases, (including 5 homes with one or more residents testing positive).
• 27 schools currently dealing with positive cases (1 confirmed case per setting), and 6 dealing with outbreaks (2 or more confirmed cases per setting).
• 170 cases have been dealt with by local contact tracers, with 374 contacts traced.
Dr Jon Sturman, clinical director for intensive care across North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust said:
“People can individually think they are invulnerable or invincible but we all know somebody who is not. Just because you might have a mild illness or no illness at all we are all potential transmitters of this virus. It’s a team effort in terms of the public and health care system. On a big scale we don’t want to be overwhelmed in healthcare and on a smaller scale we don’t want our older elderly relative friend, mother, father, grandparents affected by this because you just would not want to have it. It’s a horrible illness.”
Dr Colin Patterson, lead GP for NHS North Cumbria CCG, said:
“There is no doubt that limiting your personal involvement in contact between households will help reduce your chances of being exposed to covid. Cases are increasing here in Cumbria and this is one additional way we can protect ourselves and protect each other.”
Leader of Carlisle City Council, Cllr John Mallinson said:
“We need to take steps to protect our local communities and our most vulnerable residents. By following this advice, we’ll all be helping to save lives and will reduce the risk of transmission. We urge all Carlisle residents to follow these steps - it’ll make a difference.”
Cllr Mike Johnson, Deputy Leader of Allerdale Borough Council:
"It's important that all sections of society work together to help stop the spread of Covid-19 in Cumbria and we support the new advice issued today on limiting household contact. As a council we will continue to support the work of our partners in public health, the police, the NHS and others to help protect our communities."
Eden District Council’s Housing and health Portfolio Holder, Cllr. Judith Derbyshire, said:
“While confirmed infection rates in Eden remain low, we must acknowledge that residents in our District move frequently across the county for work, education and social reasons. We are not immune to the risks of coronavirus and must take action now to prevent the spread of infection in our communities.
“This new guidance has been issued, ahead of the potential introduction of new government imposed restrictions, in order to protect the people of Cumbria and in the hope of preventing the need for another lockdown, with the devastating damage that would wreak on our local economy. I urge everyone to familiarise themselves with the new guidelines and to adhere to them, immediately.”
Cumbria Constabulary’s Assistant Chief Constable, and Chair of Cumbria’s Strategic Co-ordinating Group, Andrew Slattery, said:
“The time has come for us all to take personal responsibility for doing everything we can to limit the spread of the Coronavirus in our communities.
“We are strongly urging people to take heed of this advice and to limit their social interactions with people from other households.
“A failure to do this will significantly increase an individual’s chance of contracting the Coronavirus and spreading it to other people – most likely their own family.
“We are seeing an increase in hospitalisations and we will also see an increase in deaths if people do not make changes to significantly reduce their social interactions.”
Pat Graham, Chief Executive of Copeland Borough Council, said:
“We are urging the Copeland community to follow this advice in order to protect themselves and one another.
“Please act now and work together to reduce the rate of transmission to help keep Copeland safe.”