Following the relaxation of service restrictions around the country this month, which includes shops, businesses, outdoor visitor attractions and places of worship, the city’s director of public health has warned the people of Leicester that the epidemic is “far from over.”
According to reports, the city of Leicester has had a large rise in the number of confirmed coronavirus cases. The city council are telling the public that they must continue to stay at home as much as possible and maintain social distancing. This advice come amidst many weeks of contradictory guidance from the government, for example the lockdown restrictions being relaxed.
Public Health England’s latest figures from the 16th June have shown that 2,494 Covid-19 cases have been confirmed in Leicester since the beginning of the epidemic.
Out of this figure, 658 cases were reported in the last two weeks. There are suggestions that this increase is down to the wider availability of virus testing, but either way, Leicester’s public health team is looking into what else could have caused this rise.
Leicester City Council’s director of public health, Ivan Browne said: “Although the overall numbers are relatively small, we are concerned that the number of cases of Covid-19 in Leicester is increasing.
“Leicester has high levels of health conditions such as diabetes, pockets of deprivation, and a very significant Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic population – and we know that these factors combine to create a high-risk, more vulnerable, population that’s more susceptible to coronavirus.
“That’s why it’s so important that people in Leicester stay at home as much as possible and continue to do what we’ve all been doing for the last few months – and that’s washing our hands regularly throughout the day and keeping two metres away from anyone we don’t live with.”
The council is urging anyone with coronavirus symptoms, such as a high temperature, a new continuous cough or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste, to request a test immediately and to stay at home. There is a mobile testing unit at Evington leisure centre this weekend, until the 21st June. There is also a permanent testing centre at the Birstall park and ride site.
The director of public health said: “As the rules are gradually relaxed, and people who have been living on their own can ‘bubble up’ with another household, we must not stop taking those basic precautions. Wearing a face covering in confined spaces and on public transport and in hospitals will also help reduce the risk of transmission to others.
“And while young people may be at less risk of serious illness from coronavirus themselves, they must understand that they could pass the virus on to elderly or vulnerable members of their families – and the consequences for them could be much more serious.
“New data from Public Health England shows that the median age of those infected is now 40 – representing a shift in age to younger working age individuals, compared to the previous period in the outbreak.
“It’s very important to remember that the virus hasn’t gone away – and that we’re still in the middle of an epidemic.
“If we all stay alert and take sensible precautions, we can help stop the spread of this very contagious virus.”
The council has provided a handy list, to ensure everyone is clued up on how to take the best precautions. These precautions are as follows:
Before you set off:
• If you’re not feeling well, please stay at home. Anyone with symptoms of coronavirus, however mild, should stay at home and request a test immediately.
• Please remember that anyone in the extremely vulnerable group who has been shielding must continue to do so until at least the end of June
• Remember that you can only go shopping with people you live with – or with someone you have formed a new support bubble with.
• Consider making use of Click & Collect services to avoid having to queue.
• Take hand sanitiser and a contactless form of payment with you. Take a face covering with you, if you’ll be using public transport or visiting small shops.
• Avoid public transport, if you can. But if you have to travel by bus, or by train, remember that face coverings must be worn on public transport at all times from Monday 15 June. Follow the advice from the operator and respect social distancing rules, keeping two metres apart from other passengers. Avoid handling cash and use contactless payment where possible. Don’t touch your face until you have been able to wash your hands.
Arriving in the city centre or other shopping areas:
• Use hand sanitiser after using cashpoints or payment machines in car parks
• Keep 2 metres apart from other pedestrians
• Use hand sanitiser, if provided, when entering shops – and avoid touching items you’re not planning on buying
• Respect queuing systems outside shops and businesses and stay 2 metres behind the person in front of you
• Respect one-way systems inside shops
• Avoid handling cash – use contactless payment where possible
• Clean your hands after touching doors, hand-rails, PIN-pads or other surfaces
• Consider wearing a face covering in small shops where social distancing isn’t possible
Practise good personal hygiene at all times:
• Always cough into a tissue or into your elbow. Do not spit in the street.
• Avoid touching your face, unless your hands are scrupulously clean
• Wash your hands frequently (toilets are open at Highcross and on Market Place South) – or use hand sanitiser, if soap and water aren’t available.
Whilst these should seem like common sense after so much time in lockdown, the rise in cases has shown that this epidemic is far from over. The public should remind themselves of these safe practises. If you need more information about keeping safe and reducing the spread of the virus, then visit the government’s website here www.gov.uk/coronavirus.
By Sam Ellison