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Further Coronavirus Outbreak Warning For East Riding

Further Coronavirus Outbreak Warning For East Riding

Published by Local Democracy Reporter Joe Gerrard at 8:01am 17th June 2020.

The East Riding must be prepared for a possible second wave of coronavirus, a council health official has said.

East Riding Council’s Head of Public Health Andy Kingdom said preventing future outbreaks depended on the public getting behind test and trace systems currently being prepared.

But he added the system would only reduce infection rates by an estimated 15 per cent.

Mr Kingdom also said it would be difficult to sort coronavirus cases from those of seasonal flu later in the year, making dealing with future outbreaks harder.

The warnings come as part of the head of public health’s coronavirus update to councillors on the Health, Care and Wellbeing Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

They also come as the council received more than £1m from a £300m government fund to help local authorities set up test and trace systems.

Mr Kingdom said handling the pandemic for more than 140 days so far meant the council was prepared to run its test and trace system and deal with future outbreaks.

Mr Kingdom said:

“Test and trace involves bringing groups together to track the spread of coronavirus.

But people have to buy into it for it to work. If people don’t get behind this then the virus will spread.

We need to prepare for a second wave. We will also have seasonal flu in the winter and if that combines with another coronavirus outbreak then the impact will be higher.”

The health official added a future outbreak would mean a new lockdown but measures would be applied to where the virus had spread such as schools and care homes.

Authorities do not have the power to close down individual villages and towns, he said.

Mr Kingdom said coronavirus death rates had fallen from highs of 17 a day on average to in mid-April when the pandemic peaked to about two or three a day currently. The figures are from Hull and East Yorkshire NHS Trusts and include data from North East Lincolnshire.

He added capacity in Humber hospitals had also improved, with coronavirus patients using 29 of the 1,700 beds available compared to 179 when the outbreak peaked. About 30 per cent of hospital beds were unoccupied as of Monday June 15.

A total of three people tested positive for coronavirus between Monday and Tuesday this week across Humber hospitals, down from 32 on the worst recorded day.

Mr Kingdom said downward trends in those areas were “significant”. But he added the figures which showed a spike in ‘excess’ overall deaths showed the pandemic had been a “generational event”.

Mr Kingdom said: “In April we had the worst amount of deaths that we’ve had in a generation. But it was less than the numbers we had forecast in earlier pandemic planning.

“Each death is a tragedy but the action we took in April halted the rise that was taking place.

“Since then the numbers have dropped significantly and continue to drop and drop.

“We’ve been dealing with an outbreak for more than 140 days now and we’ve developed strong relationships with colleagues in Hull and at Public Health England. But if there is another we will need support.”

Mr Kingdom said the council would have to balance the risks of coronavirus against moves to return to normal going forward.

He added the East Riding would have to learn to live with coronavirus rather than reacting to it.

Mr Kingdom said: “We need to minimise risks and have a major conversation with the population about what the risks will be going forward.

“Risks will be higher for the elderly and we know that coronavirus has hit the most vulnerable in society, especially care homes.

“It will be about finding a balance until we get a vaccine. It’s like dealing with a rusty tap, you don’t want to turn it all the way on and not be able to stop a gush of water.”

Mr Kingdom said public health officials were concerned about issues that had developed during lockdown including a drop in non-coronavirus related hospital visits, substance abuse and domestic violence.

The health offical said: “One of the negative impacts of the pandemic has been that drinking, drug taking and domestic violence have all gone up. We need to think about how we get people off that.”

Mr Kingdom said a “new deal” would be needed with the public on how they should respond to the pandemic going forward.

Mr Kingdom said: “The message and rules need to be simple. If residents follow them then we will give them a safe place to live.

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to make a new deal with residents on health. We need to maintain this level of co-operation with communities.”

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