Covid cases still on the rise in Bedford borough as council calls for more data


Key indicators on covid infections are still heading in the wrong direction as public health experts battle to stop Bedford plunging into a local lockdown.

Bedford Borough Council is planning to deliver 44,000 leaflets to homes in a range of languages, and to send an advertising van around the streets, to step up efforts to get messages across.

Recent testing has identified cases where people have the virus but are showing no symptoms at all, a meeting heard.

Ian Brown, Bedford Borough’s chief officer for public health said: “Many cases are asymptomatic and so our public messaging should reflect that anyone can get it, anyone can pass it on and they may not even know it.

“That means that social distancing, regular hand washing and use of a face covering in shops, busy places and on public transport are critically important.”

After falling in late June and early July, confirmed cases have risen in the three weeks from July 13 until August 2 and now sit at 33 in the most recent week.

The infection rate of 19.2 cases per 100,000 population puts Bedford in 17th place in the English list of council areas with the worst infection rates, Thursday’s (August 6) meeting of the local outbreak engagement board heard.

And even though the highest cases are in Queens Park, Brickhill, Harpur, and Kingsbrook, rural areas are not immune. The village of Oakley recorded four cases in the most recent week.

Even though the quality of data has improved, they still don’t have information on infections in workplaces, the meeting heard.

“It is really important that we get that data so we can actually stop the spread,” said Bedford Mayor Dave Hodgson.

They are using their team of environmental health officials to contact hundreds of businesses.

The meeting was told that 1,300 businesses that they have concerns about have been contacted and they will not hesitate to use powers to close premises if necessary.

There is also a continuing issue with the national test and trace system being unable to contact more than a quarter (28 per cent) of people who should be self-isolating.

That is the highest rate of non contact in the east of England, the meeting heard.

Bedford mayor, Dave Hodgson called for the Government to share national test and trace data with the council.

“We need to have that ability to contact the people to try and drive down the infection rate in Bedford.

“They need to do that today or tomorrow and not wait a week, two weeks or a month. It is not acceptable. “

As well as thanking people for wearing masks, the mayor called on people who are not to consider it their “civic duty”.

And Cllr Christine McHugh (Lib Dem, Goldington) appealed to anti mask wearers to reconsider their opposition.

“People might feel it’s an imposition on their liberty but what price your liberty if we are in this stop-start lockdown and release of lockdown?”

by David Tooley
Local Democracy Reporter