On Friday morning, Slough was named by Public Health England (PHE) and Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) as one of the COVID-19 ‘areas of concern’ – one of the national ‘contain’ measures designed to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
The designation comes following a rise in the number of positive cases within the borough across the last two weeks, though that number is now falling again.
It also takes into account:
• The demographics of the borough and its population – including the black and minority ethnic population which is known to be disproportionately affected by COVID-19
• Previous high levels of infection at the beginning of the lockdown
• Levels of contact tracing following a positive test as part of the test and trace system – Slough has lower than the national average levels of contacts
• No clear link to any individual venue or workplace
Josie Wragg, chief executive, said: “Residents do not need to be unduly worried, but this serves as a timely reminder that COVID-19 is still out there, still circulating in our community and still affecting local people.
“It has not gone away, we are not back to normal and, to protect everyone in our town, people need to follow the advice on handwashing, face coverings and social distancing, get tested at the first hint of symptoms and, if a test is positive, self isolate and take part in the test and trace system to the best of their ability.”
The council has a local outbreak management cell in place which meets daily to analyse the latest outbreak data and plan local preventative measures.
It is currently assessing whether to put in a place a local tracing system with volunteers to enhance the national provision and looking at sites for another testing centre based in local communities.
Businesses have been offered advice on how to maintain safety and how to report an outbreak and the food and safety team has been visiting key shopping areas in the borough to ensure compliance with the regulations.
The partnership project, run with public health, CCG and voluntary sector colleagues, to engage with minority communities is also being considered by other local authorities as best practice in helping those most at risk of both catching and being seriously affected by coronavirus.
And the One Slough volunteer hub for those who need practical help such as food and medicine deliveries because they are isolating remains in place though official shielding has now ended.
Josie added: “It looks likes the rise in cases we have seen over the past couple of weeks is a blip and our cases are now falling again; but this is not something the town can continue to let happen.
“It is easy to be complacent, to not see a large daily death toll and think everything is OK, but we are very aware that each new case, each new dot on the map, each statistic is a person, a resident, a mum, a dad, someone loved, someone cared about, someone we don’t want to lose.
“Each week the effects of COVID-19 become clearer and more widespread as people report symptoms lasting days, weeks or in some cases months; and the longer term effects on health are still not known.
“I call on all residents to play their part – not just to protect themselves, but protect those they love, those they live with, their family, friends, businesses and town.”
Further information on ways to reduce the risk of coronavirus are available here: https://www.publichealthslough.co.uk/campaigns/reducing-your-risk-coronavirus/
Montem testing centre remains open to residents daily from 8am to 8pm, doesn’t require pre-booking and can be accessed on foot or by car whether you are symptomatic or not. Please continue to remind your contacts, colleagues and family members.
Slough Public Health can be followed on Twitter for any other news and ongoing COVID-19 communications - @SloughPH
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