Borough sees another 127 Covid-19 cases in a week
Reporter: Charlotte Green
Date published: 06 August 2020
Since the start of the pandemic the highest number of cases has been among white residents – at 1,270 cases compared to 521 in the Asian community.
Oldham has seen a further 127 cases of coronavirus in the last seven days and council bosses warns they are not expecting to see a drop in numbers for ‘weeks’.
On July 28 it was announced that some lockdown measures were being brought back across the borough to restrict households socialising after a spike in cases alarmed health chiefs.
The data had initially confirmed 119 positive cases in the week up to July 25 but this has now been updated with new figures to total 135 actual cases.
A ‘lag’ in the reported cases being confirmed to the council means that the latest statistics – which show 127 new cases to the week up to August 1 – could also potentially rise.
Cabinet member for Covid-19 recovery, Coun Arooj Shah said they did not expect to see a decrease in cases for some weeks.
She also spoke out against ‘stigmatising’ Asian and minority groups for the rising numbers.
The rate of infection in the borough remains the highest across Greater Manchester and is significantly higher than the England rate.
“The most up to date data is still showing us that our levels are still really high,” Coun Shah said.
“I don’t think we’re going to see the impact of the measures we’ve brought in for some weeks now so I think the chances of the numbers staggering or getting higher is more likely for the next couple of weeks.
“We’ve massively ramped our testing up and we’re encouraging people from across the borough to access testing and that’s why we’ve got pop-up sites in Hollinwood and Shaw as well.”
She added: “There is the issue around the spike in BAME communities and the stigma that is now associated with that and the kind of problems and division that’s creating within communities which isn’t helpful, especially when there is no evidence base to say that people within those communities haven’t been behaving.
“There is a spike just as much in younger people, so between 20 to 40-year-olds which is also a massive concern.
“It is massively linked to socio-economic factors. We know that the spikes in Asian communities aren’t linked to any widespread non-compliance with any guidelines.
“It’s really important to stress that what this virus has amplified is the existing health inequalities in towns like Oldham where you have got areas and pockets of high deprivation.”
Coun Shah said that confusion around the national messaging of what forming a household ‘bubble’ entails had also led to more households mixing after lockdown was relaxed on July 4.
Under the new measures, residents cannot have social visitors to their home and must keep two metres apart from friends and family when seeing them outside.
Vulnerable people have been told to continue shielding, and care homes will also not be allowing visitors.
These measures were initially due to be in place until August 11 – but will now be reviewed in line with the restrictions put in place by central government across the whole region.
Coun Shah also revealed that, in a move similar to other local authorities like Blackburn with Darwen, Oldham is working with Public Health England to set up its own localised version of the test and trace system to plug gaps within the national scheme.
“Our aim, subject to government support, is to be able to pick up tracing within 48 hours rather than the 96 hours it currently takes for cases to be referred from the national system,” she added.
“Because that lag is being unhelpful when you’re trying to get on top of it and bring in the precautions that are necessary.
“We’ve got our secondary testing through our GPs and they’re sending messages out.
“From next week we’re going to be doing our community door-to-door testing so where people will be having conversations with them, testing them and then coming back.”
If someone tests positive in Oldham, their GP is alerted who will then ring them directly – often before an official contact tracer gets in touch.
The GP will remind them of social isolation guidelines and also to encourage them to engage with test and trace.
“The biggest challenge we have is pushing out the messaging around the guidelines, just reinforcing them because the messaging around masks has superseded the messages around making sure you wash your hands, which is more important,” Coun Shah said.
She also confirmed that the rise in new cases has not yet translated into new hospital admissions.
Over the last 28 days the highest number of cases were in Asian and Asian British groups, with 128 cases.
There were 91 cases among white groups, and 104 where the ethnicity of the person was unknown.
However since the start of the pandemic the highest number of cases has been among white residents – at 1,270 cases compared to 521 in the Asian community.
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