As Bedford hits a record number of daily COVID-19 (coronavirus) cases and a burgeoning number of people battle the illness in hospital, residents are being urged to knuckle down and stick to lockdown rules.
A meeting yesterday (Thursday) was told that a local record of 41 cases were uncovered in just one day in the borough.
And there are now 48 people fighting covid-19 at Bedford Hospital, which is itself a ten-fold increase from just four just over two weeks ago.
“We’ve really all got to knuckle down and get on with it for now as difficult as it is,” said Cllr Louise Jackson (Lab, Harpur), the council’s health and wellbeing portfolio holder.
“Those numbers are going up and those numbers in our vulnerable age groups are going up. It’s such a serious illness even before we start talking about long covid.”
Mayor Dave Hodgson (Lib Dem) said everyone has to stick to the rules to stop the infection spreading and filling up hospital beds, which would block others from being treated.
He urged people to stick to the spirit of the rules – to avoid contact with others, stay at home, and only make essential trips.
“Please don’t think I can do this, it’s ok. Try and do as much as you can to reduce infection rates,” he said.
Borough public health chief officer Ian Brown told the local outbreak engagement board that at the height of the first wave there was a maximum of 69 inpatients in the hospital with the coronavirus airborne infection.
“We are not far away from that now as it stands,” he added reiterating the advice to follow restrictions to relieve pressure on the hospital and prevent deaths.
“We should not be thinking of what we can do, we should be thinking of what we should do,” said Mr Brown.
He added: “Last week we saw the highest ever daily recorded of 41 cases and it looks like we are on track to beat that for this week.”
The borough has also hit 200 cases in one week “which is a record for Bedford”, he said, although that is average in a national context.
There had been no covid deaths recorded in the most recent week, the meeting heard.
But Mr Brown said more people older people, considered a vulnerable group, were catching the infection.
It has also spread all over the borough, is not solely an urban problem, with the majority of cases in the “white British” ethnic category.
Council chief executive Philip Simpkins warned that if the numbers did not drop, the borough could find itself in tier two when the national lockdown is set to end in early December.
“Our numbers are close to what was being used last week to push an area into tier two,” he said.
“I absolutely must stress that if our numbers do not come down there is a strong likelihood when we come out of national lockdown Bedford could go straight into tier two and not down to tier one.”
by David Tooley
Local Democracy Reporter