Bedford Borough’s COVID-19 Deep Dive Final Report has found the local infection rate has “declined since mid-June” and that there was “no singular cause of the higher infection rate” seen in Bedford Borough.
Previously, our local infection rate in Bedford Borough had been the highest in the East of England, and in the top ten of the UK, with around 754.6 cases per 100,000.
The report says this has dropped to just 9.9 per 100,000, placing the Borough as the area with the 42nd highest seven-day incidence rate in the UK.
June’s high number of cases triggered an investigation by Bedford Borough Council, Bedfordshire CCG, Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Public Health England and the Joint Biosecurity Centre.
This final report shows that measures put in place to reduce the infection rate locally appear to be working.
Since the interim report, which was published three weeks ago, there has been increased testing capacity at Bedford Hospital to build a better picture of where infections were prevalent.
There has also been an increase in advice given to communities where more cases were seen.
“We have increased the capacity for COVID-19 testing at Bedford Hospital that allows us to get a faster turnaround time (in 90mins) on results using new advanced technology,” said David Carter, CEO, Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
“Our staff continue to work tirelessly around the clock to ensure that we can provide the very best care, and I continue to thank them for all their efforts to keep people safe,” he added.
Their findings show that people were mostly infected after being exposed to people within their households and household visitors who were infected. Exposure elsewhere remained low.
Recent cases have mostly found to be within Bedford town centre and amongst people of working age.
The report also looked at areas where infections were higher than average in healthcare settings, care homes and workplaces, with no one cause of the higher local infection rate being found.
Mayor Dave Hodgson said: “In terms of recent transmission and looking at how we can continue to control infection rates, what I take from this is the importance of good practices in all workplaces so employees can work safely, and the importance of every individual continuing to follow preventative measures in the home and while out and about.”
The report also highlighted the collaborative partnership between all organisations involved, with these partnerships set to continue.
Patricia Davies, Accountable Officer Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Clinical Commissioning Group added: “The partnership work… has without question helped to prevent further spread of coronavirus in Bedford.
“The recommendations from the report will help local agencies to support a downward decline in cases, but we must not be complacent.”
The final recommendations of the ‘Deep Dive’ include:
- Continued work to communicate with and engage with local communities
- Continuing to support care homes
- Making sure all local outbreaks are reported to the Director of Public Health.
Increase in infections
While the local infection rate has decreased, Bedford has seen an increase in new infections in the last two weeks.
The partnership say they will monitor the situation closely but the public are still urged to remain cautious.
“Coronavirus will remain in our communities for some time to come and so it’s never been more important, especially as we edge ever closer to winter, that we continue to follow guidance,” added Patricia Davies.
“While there is no cure for the virus yet, we can continue to protect those we love, our families and our communities by social distancing, washing our hands frequently with soap and water or hand sanitiser, and wearing a face covering in enclosed spaces.”
Anyone with symptoms, including a new persistent cough, high temperature or a change or loss of taste or smell should immediately self-isolate and arrange a test via nhs.uk/coronavirus or by calling 119.
The Bedford Borough Covid-19 Deep Dive findings are available at bedford.gov.uk/covid19