14 coronavirus cases at one construction site as Bedford infections rise ‘exponentially’


Fourteen cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) have been linked to a local construction project as public health chiefs warn of an exponential rise in coronavirus across Bedford borough.

The building project was not named at yesterday’s Bedford Borough Council update into how the town is coping as a second wave of the infection appears to be gaining momentum.

Ian Brown, the borough’s chief officer for public health told the local outbreak engagement board that there have been increases of 50 per cent and 64 per cent in recent positive tests results.

118 people received positive test results in the week to October 4, the committee heard, giving the borough a rate of 68.1 per 100,000. The rate is up from 45.1 just seven days before.

Some of the numbers are attributed to students who are living at university in other parts of the country, but the main affected group is the 25 to 49 year olds.

More than a quarter are not displaying symptoms and family members are catching the virus from their relatives.

Although no recent deaths have added to the 181 lives that have been lost in the borough and attributed to the virus, the experts are fearing that it may be only a matter of time.

There are signs that the infection is reaching more vulnerable members of the community, with 12 cases linked to seven care homes.

“We are beginning to see cases in our older adults and the over 70s,” said Mr Brown.

“We all need to observe the rule of six and limit the number of people we are sharing the air with,” he said.

The infection is also reaching rural and urban parts of the borough, with the town centre’s Cauldwell, Goldington, Queens Park and Castle wards at the top of the infection list.

Mayor Dave Hodgson said the rate of increase now is as steep as it was in April, when the first infection wave was rising.

Yesterday’s meeting heard that a leafleting campaign is being planned, and they are even wanting someone to walk around town wearing a sandwich board to remind people of the basis rules of washing hands, wearing masks and keeping apart from others.

The meeting also heard that the council hopes that a permanent testing station will be able to open soon at the University of Bedfordshire.

The council is keen to keep testing capacity in the town after some mobile unit time was taken away to provide reinforcements for the north of England.

Cllr Louise Jackson (Lab, Harpur) is the council’s elected health and wellbeing chief. She told the committee that her school student son is currently self-isolating at home.

“Limiting the number of interactions we have is so, so important,” she said.

“It would be a good idea if parents reminded their children about this issue.”

By Local Democracy Reporter
David Tooley

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