A STARK warning has been issued that Tameside is heading towards a full Leicester-style lockdown unless residents heed the Covid-19 restrictions recently introduced for the whole of Greater Manchester.
With the R-rate of infection in the borough increasing almost seven-fold in the space of three weeks from 5.3 cases per 100,000 to 37, there is concern that more stringent measures might need needed to curb the spread of coronavirus.
Though nowhere as serious as neighbouring Oldham which has the highest infection rate in the country at 108 cases per 100,000, the recent spike is a concern.And to reinforce the message for the public to remain vigilant, specifically relating to not visiting the homes of other families, Tameside Council held a Skype meeting for media to convey the gravity of the situation
Dr Jeanelle de Gruchy, Tameside Council’s director of public health, admitted: “We are getting into that area where other actions may be needed to be taken.
“We want to avoid having to close pubs and having more restrictions, but people are not abiding with the rules and households are mixing.”
Dr de Gruchy urged residents to “stick to the basics” of two metre social distancing – one metre with mitigation – washing hands and wearing face masks as they are fundamental to conquering Covid.
She added the latest restrictions focusing on different households mixing is a “real concern”.
Dr de Gruchy said: “Social mixing between households is a concern because of the situation with Covid.
“Once one person in a household is infected, everyone is more at risk of becoming positive as it can get transmitted quickly.”
Dr de Gruchy added it is important anyone showing symptoms should immediately self-isolate and get tested.She also pointed out Covid-19 is in the working age population which is why hospital admissions and death rates are not rising.
Dr de Gruchy is in regular contact with other directors of health within Greater Manchester, Blackburn, Darwen and Leicester to share knowledge and learning and to support once another and make sure their messages are clear and consistent.
Dr Asad Ali, Tameside and Glossop Clinical Commissioning Group co-chair, warned: “Covid is still here, though the perception with some people is that it has gone away. The community needs to take it seriously.
“I want to appeal to the residents of Tameside to follow the rules or we will have a more stringent, rigorous lockdown.”
Sharon Smith, Tameside Council’s head of public protection, explained that firm action will be taken against businesses breaching lockdown restrictions.
“We don’t want a local lockdown but, unless people listen, that’s where we will end up,” she said.
She added ever-changing guidelines are often confusing which is why they are keen to keep putting out the message.
“There are national changes and then in small print not where there is a local lockdown. It is about reminding people what they can or cannot do”, she said.
Cllr Allison Gwynne, Tameside Council’s executive member for neighbourhood services, admitted it would be a “catastrophe” for the borough’s businesses to have a full lockdown imposed.
She added it was important everyone “plays fair” which is why swift action was taken against two licensed premises which broke restrictions.
“If we find serious breaches, we will ask the licensing panel to have a look and, if serious enough, for them to remove the license,” she said.