Stark message from Wigan Council chief as Covid-19 rates rise

Surging case numbers suggest Wigan is in for a difficult few weeks in lockdown, despite the ongoing roll-out of the vaccination programme.
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The new, more transmissible variant of the novel coronavirus led the Government to order the country to stay at home once more on Monday night.

The Government’s coronavirus dashboard shows just how quickly cases are rising in Wigan.

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In the seven-day period ending on December 30 the rolling average for the borough was 311.8 per 100,000 residents.

Wigan Council chief executive Alison McKenzie-FolanWigan Council chief executive Alison McKenzie-Folan
Wigan Council chief executive Alison McKenzie-Folan

The number of cases of Covid-19 recorded in seven-day periods jumped by around two-thirds between Christmas Eve and December 30.

And sadly Wiganers are continuing to lose their lives in hospital with Covid-19.

The situation prompted a stark warning on social media from Wigan Council’s chief executive Alison McKenzie-Folan.

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Ms McKenzie-Folan said on Monday that: “Case numbers are rising fast across the borough now” and that the positivity rate for people being tested having Covid was 15.9 per cent.

She also spoke of the difficulties the borough’s NHS is facing, saying there was “mounting pressure” on Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh (WWL)Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

It is understood WWL is facing an increasingly-tough situation trying to balance the demands being placed on its hospitals by people with Covid-19.

The figure of 311.8 cases per 100,000 residents for the seven days ending December 30 is a significant rise from the 189.3 cases per 100,000 people which were recorded in the seven days up to and including Christmas Eve.

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The case count shows an equally sharp rise. In the seven days ending on December 24 there were 622 new cases of Covid-19 recorded in Wigan.

That had jumped to 1,023 for the seven days ending on December 30.

Experimental Government data published on the dashboard showed that the highest rates of positive tests in most recent days were among the oldest age groups of Wiganers and then among the working-age population.

Rolling rates of more than 300 cases per 100,000 people were seen in every age group for the seven days ending on December 30 from 20-t0-24-year-olds through to residents aged between 50 and 54.

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The other darkest parts of the heatmap for those seven days were for residents in their 80s and 90s.

NHS data published on Monday showed there have been 609 deaths with Covid-19 in the borough’s hospitals, with the most recent one on January 3. There were also six on January 2 and four on January 1.

Wiganers have once more been ordered to stay at home except for a limited list of reasons.

Schools from primary to college level are learning remotely except for the children of key workers and vulnerable youngsters, although nurseries remain open.

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Exercise is now only permitted with your household, with one other person or with your support bubble.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the lockdown but also said the vaccination roll-out gave some reason for optimism.

The authorities overseeing getting jabs to Wiganers have given some indication of how this is going and urged residents to follow all public health guidelines to slow down the spread of Covid-19.

Wigan Borough Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Wigan Council said in a joint statement: “The authorisation of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is welcome news – meaning the UK now has two authorised vaccines – and will help us to protect those most at risk alongside our frontline health and care staff.

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"There is national protocol – as set out by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) - in place for which priority groups will receive the vaccine in initial roll-outs.

“It is important to emphasise that residents who are to receive the vaccine in these initial rounds of distribution will be contacted directly by their GP practice with all the relevant details regarding time and place. If you do get contacted, we strongly advise you to take the opportunity to get vaccinated.

“Vaccination clinics are being set up across the borough and residents will be contacted via their local GPs, in the same way they would to be informed of a flu jab.

“Information about current locations can be found here:

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“Only people with an appointment can get vaccinated at the clinics, so residents are being asked not to just turn up. The over 80s, along with health and social care staff, remain the top priority for plans this month across the entire country, not just in Wigan borough.

"It is crucial that given the rising rates of infection seen across the country associated with the new strain of the virus, everyone continues to follow the public health guidance, stay at home, and remember the three Ws; watch your distance, wear a face covering and wash your hands.”

Data on how many Wiganers have already received a vaccine is not currently available. Vaccination statistics are not available on the Government's coronavirus dashboard, although this is set to change from the start of next week.

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