A CHILLING warning has been issued that Tameside is at serious risk of having a Bolton-style lockdown imposed after cases of Covid-19 doubled in a matter of days to a deeply worrying 72 cases per 100,000 people.
To ensure that does not happen, leading figures in the borough have reinforced the need for everybody to comply with coronavirus guidelines.
Councillor Brenda Warrington, Tameside Council’s executive leader, said: “There has been a very steep increase in the number of cases in the last few days which is extremely concerning.
“It is going to take action and compliance from each and every one of us. It needs us all to help curb it and prevent another lockdown and follow in the footsteps of Bolton which is a real possibility.
“We do not want a return to a national lockdown and to have the original restrictions back in place.
“The message is clear. We need everyone, everywhere to step up and stop the spread of the virus which affects all areas of Tameside and every community.”
Cllr Warrington added that with freedom and the easing of restrictions comes responsibility.
“We all have to be responsible and I ask everyone to be selfless and to do their bit, if only to protect the vulnerable from becoming very ill,” she continued.
Cllr Warrington explained it is “vital” residents do not mix outside their households, bubbles or in garden as it has been proven most cases are transmitted this way and from Monday they should not meet in groups of more than six.
And she pointed out it is about getting back to basics – washing hands, wearing face masks and maintaining social distancing – to keep Covid-19 at bay.
She explained the virus can “spread amazingly quickly” and one person could possibly lead to 1,000 people being infected in six weeks.
Cllr Warrington continued: “One of those people may be someone you love, a very close friend who becomes ill and who could die.
“We don’t want to be responsible for the death of others as hospitalisation is increasing among the elderly.
“Young people may not be too ill but, as we have seen, this virus does not respect boundaries.”
Dr Jeanelle de Gruchy, Tameside’s director of population health, added it is important not to lose focus in the battle against Covid-19 as she admitted infection rates have “gone up rapidly, have accelerated and are spiking”.
“We always knew there would be a risk, when children went back to school, businesses reopened and there was more social interaction, that infection rates would increase. Unfortunately it is increasing,” she said.
Dr de Gruchy added the most simple message is to reduce the number of people we are in contact with while getting back to the basics of washing hands, wearing face masks in enclosed spaces and social distancing.
She added it is important for anybody showing symptoms to get tested.
“I would encourage people to get tested if they are symptomatic as we can interpret results easily. A negative rest does not tell us much,” said Dr de Gruchy.
She also pointed out Covid-19 had affected Tameside more than elsewhere because the general health of the population is worse.
Dr de Gruchy also explained cases in care homes have increased recently which is a concern.
Brendan Ryan, medical director of the Tameside and Glossop NHS Trust, described them as a “thermometer for the borough’s health”.
He reported an increase in people being admitted to hospital with Covid-19 and the percentage of those very ill or dying has increased, mainly among the older age group but also people in their 50s with underlying health conditions.
Mr Ryan added it was down to the collective behaviour of all the community to keep the virus at bay.
“If the infection rate is low, people tend to think it has gone away which is not the case,” he said.
Mr Ryan also reassured the public they are still open for business for non Covid-19 related treatments and the public should not be scared to visit hospital.
Chief Inspector Lee Broadstock spoke about police work in ensuring compliance, both in licensed premises and in households.
He described their message, the four Es – engage, explain, encourage and enforce, the final one being the last resort.
Cllr Warrington was asked about Government resources possibly being made available to pay for marshalls to police the guidelines.
She said Tameside Council would accept any resources as engagement with the public is important.
Cllr Warrington added all businesses had been written to, reminding them of the importance of compliance and how “fragile” the situation is.
She also discussed the economic impact of a Bolton style lockdown which would affect businesses in the borough which are only just getting back on their feet.
“Businesses, especially smaller ones, would struggle to operate with further restrictions,” explained Cllr Warrington.