Warwickshire's director of public health explains what new Covid Alert levels mean for the county - The Rugby Observer

Warwickshire's director of public health explains what new Covid Alert levels mean for the county

Rugby Editorial 13th Oct, 2020 Updated: 13th Oct, 2020   0

WARWICKSHIRE’S director of public health has explained the new Covid Alert levels and what they mean for the county.

The Prime Minister set out new local rules to reduce the spread of Covid-19 across the UK yesterday (Monday October 12) by introducing a three-tiered system of local Covid Alert Levels.

Warwickshire is currently set at the ‘medium’ alert level. This means the county remains on the same level of alert with minimal restrictions in place, but includes the Rule of Six, which means – apart from a set of limited exemptions including work and education – any social gatherings of more than six people will be against the law. All hospitality venues are also required to close at 10pm.

Talking about the new system, Dr Shade Agboola, Director of Public Health Warwickshire, said: “At present we are on medium alert, but as cases continue to rise, things could easily change and we could have further restrictions imposed upon us if we don’t take the virus more seriously.

“I know it has been a difficult year for all of us, but unless we reduce the contacts we make, the virus will continue to spread.”

She said there had been a steep rise in cases of in-house transmissions in Warwickshire, attributed to people visiting homes of friends or family and being lulled into a false sense of security that the rules of social distancing do not apply.

“Unfortunately, this has led to people spreading the virus from one family to another,” she said.

“I really don’t want people to miss out on spending time with the ones they love, but I am urging residents to reduce the amount of contacts they make and take every precaution possible if you need to visit other people’s homes.

“If we don’t reduce our contacts, transmissions levels will continue to rise and Warwickshire will be moved into the ‘high’ alert level. This will include many current local interventions, but it will mean preventing all mixing between households or support bubbles indoors and the rule of six will apply in outdoor spaces, including private gardens.”

The ‘very high’ alert level will apply where transmission rates are causing the greatest concern, based on an assessment of all available data and the local situation. This includes incidence and test positivity, including among older and more at-risk age groups, as well as the growth rate, hospital admissions and other factors.

In these areas, the government will set a baseline of prohibiting social mixing indoors and in private gardens, with the rule of six allowed in open public spaces like parks and beaches.

Pubs and bars must close and can only remain open where they operate as if they were a restaurant – which means serving substantial meals, like a main lunchtime or evening meal. People will be also be advised not to travel in and out of these areas.

In areas with high alert levels, the government will work with local authority leads to review more severe action which may go beyond the main closures and may include measures such as the closure of gyms, casinos, and leisure centres. Non-essential retail, schools and universities will remain open in all levels.

Dr Agboola added: “To reduce the risk of catching or spreading coronavirus, try to keep at least two metres away from people you do not live with.

“Social distancing is essential to stop the spread of the virus, as it is more likely to spread when people are close together. An infected person can pass on the virus even if they do not have any symptoms, through talking, breathing, coughing or sneezing. So please ensure that your home is well ventilated when you have visitors.

“When with people you do not live with, you should also avoid physical contact; being close and face-to-face and touching things that other people have touched.

“Most importantly, if you do have symptoms, please get a test and do not visit family and friends during this period until the outcome of the test is known and all symptoms of the virus have gone.”

Regulations and criteria for all three local alert levels will be debated and voted on in the House of Commons. Subject to that vote, the new levels will come into force tomorrow (Wednesday October 15).

Visit https://www.gov.uk/guidance/local-covid-alert-levels-what-you-need-to-know for more information.


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