06:50PM, Tuesday 01 December 2020
A public health official has outlined some of the reasons why Slough’s COVID-19 infection rate is not falling as quickly as other parts of the country.
Figures from Public Health England show the weekly rate of confirmed new cases per 100,000 people in the town stood at 296.9 on Thursday.
This compares to an infection rate of 102.4 in the neighbouring Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead and 163.3 in the London Borough of Hillingdon.
Sue Foley, public health consultant at Slough Borough Council, told a meeting of the council’s health scrutiny panel on Thursday: “Cases are coming down which is fantastic but it’s slower than the rest of the country.
“In the rest of the country most places are coming down because of the national lockdown but for Slough it’s just at a slower rate, hence Tier 3.”
She added Slough’s population has a higher chance of being infected and experiencing serious illness due to the borough having a higher number of people from the BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) community and a large number of people working in front-facing jobs, increasing the risk of contracting COVID-19.
The town also has a large number of people with conditions which make serious COVID-19 illness more likely and the densely populated areas of the town make social distancing more challenging, she added.
Conservative councillor Wayne Strutton asked Ms Foley whether the council needed to be tougher on its enforcement alongside the police to break-up large gatherings while the town is subject to coronavirus restrictions.
Ms Foley responded: “It’s a two-way communication, it’s about enforcement and seeing that enforcement is happening and people will get fined.
“But it’s also about getting the message out there that these restrictions are in place and we need to get the rates down and work as a whole community.”
Labour councillor Fiza Matloob (Lab, Baylis and Stoke) asked whether the town could expect to see members of the armed forces deployed in Slough to help carry out testing, like was seen with the rollout of mass testing in Liverpool last month.
Ms Foley said: “The way Armed Forces would be deployed is if they were assisting in the lateral flow testing like in Liverpool but that’s only by request.
“It’s highly likely we’re going to start with more targeted testing because that’s considered to be more effective.”
Slough’s Tier 3 status is expected to be reviewed on December 16.
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