Director of Public Health Dr Husbands gives an update on coronavirus rates in Hackney
This week the Government has announced that, from Monday 14 September, gatherings of more than six people will be banned across England. This includes meeting in a garden, a park, outside a pub or indoors. The only exceptions are if your household or support bubble is already larger than 6 people. Workplaces and schools are also exempt. The Government also announced further local restrictions in Bolton.
The changes are in response to rising infection rates across the country, so it’s important that we stick to these new rules and do our bit to help bring down infection rates and prevent further restrictions.
This week’s coronavirus infection data shows a decrease in rates across Hackney. The infection rates halved from 30 per 100,000 to 15 per 100,000 since the previous weekly figures (from 19 to 25 August). The data also showed a larger decrease in the north of the borough, in the three wards we have been most concerned about - Stamford Hill West, Cazenove and Springfield. However, this fall in infection rates has coincided with a dramatic drop in testing rates, particularly at the mobile test centre in Stamford Hill, which we think may be to do with errors in the online booking system directing people to the wrong test sites far afield - meaning that we’re not testing enough people to pick up all the infections that are still happening. This is why we are urging people to use the walk-in centre, in Bentley Road, Dalston, which is open seven days a week, 8am-8pm.
So, while the figures look promising on paper, we are still very concerned about infection rates across the borough - and particularly in the north of Hackney, where infection rates have consistently been relatively high throughout the pandemic. Until we have a drop in infection that is matched by sustained levels of testing, we cannot feel truly confident that we are having an impact on the virus in our communities. The current fall in infection rates also would not protect Hackney from a central government enforced local lockdown, if that were thought to be necessary. This is because patterns of infection, testing uptake and positive case tracking are taken as a whole by the government, when making decisions about whether or not to intervene in a local area.
To help keep Hackney safe, it is important that everyone follows Government guidance, and gets a test if they have symptoms of coronavirus - no matter how mild.
With the Jewish holiday period coming up, we cannot afford to be complacent. This is a time when families, friends and neighbours traditionally celebrate together - and much like Easter, Passover, and Eid, sadly things must be different this year. We continue to urge people in Stamford Hill West, Cazenove and Springfield:
• Not to meet people they do not live with inside a private home or garden, except where you have formed a support bubble
• Not to visit someone else’s home or garden
• Not to socialise with people they do not live with in other indoor public venues – such as shops, places of worship, community centre, however they may attend these venues with people they live with (or are in a support bubble with), but should avoid interaction with individuals or groups from other households.
I understand that this is a lot to ask of you and not an easy thing to do at such an important time of year for so many of our residents, but it’s absolutely vital if we are to tackle the virus in a sustained way and keep our community safe.
If you have coronavirus symptoms, even mild ones, please isolate yourself from other people for 10 days and get a test. If you are asked to self isolate, regardless of symptoms, you must do so to keep from possibly passing it onto others.
Coronavirus symptoms are:
A high temperature
A new, continuous cough
A loss or change to your sense of smell or taste
In Hackney there are two testing sites:
Bentley Road car park, Dalston, N1 4DB (open 8am – 8pm, seven days a week)
Yesodey Hatorah School Egerton Road, N16 6UB (open 10.30am-3.30pm on Sundays)
You can book a test online or call 119. If you are unable to book a test at a local site, you can also order a home test kit, or you can attend the Bentley Road test site, where walk-up tests are available seven days a week, 8am-8pm.