Wigan public health chief speaks as more schools record Covid cases

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Council statistics showed a recent rise in the number of schools in the borough where there have been confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus.

The town hall’s weekly coronavirus tracker showed a notable increase in the latest week for positive test results being reported among pupils and staff.

Covid-19 cases were recorded at 31 primary schools, nine high schools, four colleges and two special schools in the week between June 9 and June 15.

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Secondary school pupils in class wearing masks. Photo: Getty ImagesSecondary school pupils in class wearing masks. Photo: Getty Images
Secondary school pupils in class wearing masks. Photo: Getty Images

Wigan Council’s director of public health Professor Kate Ardern said the situation in schools is being monitored.

Prof Ardern said: “Ensuring our children are safe at school is extremely important to us and we’ve worked incredibly closely with our schools throughout the coronavirus pandemic to provide support.

“This includes offering guidance on implementing enhanced infection prevention and control measures, as well as working with individual schools to hold outbreak control meetings where they are needed.

“Unfortunately, we have seen an increase in positive cases but we continue to regularly review the situation in our schools, enabling us to respond quickly and effectively in our guidance.

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Professor Kate ArdernProfessor Kate Ardern
Professor Kate Ardern

“We know that balancing the risk of new infection with the need to protect the mental health and wellbeing of our children is incredibly important and we are grateful to the teachers and teaching staff who are doing a fantastic job in making sure that, even where year groups are isolating, learning and enjoyment can continue.”

Meanwhile, an expert advising the Government says Covid rules in schools need a rethink.

Professor Russell Viner, a member of Sage, stopped short of calling for so-called bubble arrangements to be scrapped but said a balance should be struck between how much certain approaches might protect broader society and how much they might harm children.

He said putting restrictions on children as the one group in society not vaccinated against the novel coronavirus required careful thought.

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Wigan Council says it has a robust tracking and recording system for cases in the borough’s schools and support is available from the health protection team and other local authority employees on infection prevention and control measures, outbreak control measures, risk assessments and ventilation.

Enhanced measures have been put in place since the more transmissible Delta variant was identified and positions have been agreed in the borough on sports events, proms and trips.

The work continues as the coronavirus tracker showed the borough’s case rate per 100,000 people rose again last week.

The Government's coronavirus dashboard showed on Monday that Wigan's seven-day rate was 364.2 cases per 100,000 people.

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However, the local authority's tracker also showed that the number of people in hospital fell slightly last week compared to the previous one.

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