12:04PM, Thursday 08 October 2020
Slough would have been placed on the Government’s COVID-19 watchlist were it not for impending changes to the way coronavirus restrictions are enforced.
The council confirmed on Friday (Oct2) it had avoided being designated as an ‘area of concern’ despite 123 positive cases being diagnosed in the borough in the previous seven days.
When the borough was placed on the COVID-19 watchlist on August 22 it had recorded just 19 cases in the previous week.
Public Health representative Sue Foley told a meeting of the council’s Outbreak Engagement Board yesterday this was due to incoming changes in the way each local authority is ranked.
She said: “What we’re understanding nationally is there are going to be changes around the contain framework, the threshold and the tiers boroughs or counties are put into should they exceed a certain threshold.
“In the old system we would’ve been an area of enhanced support which is higher than an area of concern so under the old system we would be in the watchlist.”
It has been widely reported the Government will introduce a three-tier approach to coronavirus restrictions for local authorities with measures changing depending which tier an area is placed in.
Cllr Pavitar Mann (Lab, Britwell and Northborough) told the meeting: “The presentation quite clearly shows our current rate is significantly higher than it was at the time we thought the first peak was going to be and higher than the point where we were designated as an ‘area of concern’.
“It’s very confusing and mixed messages for residents. If you are following this, there’s no discernible way you can tell what any increase in cases means for them practically.
“The data shows very clearly its (cases) are significantly higher but that clearly hasn’t translated into any action on the ground.”
The meeting heard how the last death recorded in Slough from COVID-19 was on August 14.
Tessa Lindfield, strategic director of public health for Berkshire, said she understood why it was a confusing time for residents but said it was important to compare Slough’s situation to the rest of the country.
She added: “We know the south east is relatively spared compared to other parts of the country.
“It’s that comparison with how we’re doing compared to other parts of the country which really determines where the Department for Health needs to put additional support.”
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