Reported Covid-19 cases expected to DOUBLE in Northamptonshire as government reveals Pillar Two results

Health chiefs playing down fears of 'local lockdown' despite rises in neighbouring areas

Northampton's neighbour Leicester was forced into local lockdown this week. Photo: Getty Images
Northampton's neighbour Leicester was forced into local lockdown this week. Photo: Getty Images

Health chiefs are playing down fears of a local lockdown in Northamptonshire despite an expected doubling in the number of reported cases in the county is announced today.

Neighbouring Leicester has already been shuttered for two weeks and Bedford could be next after alarming rises in previously unseen Covid-19 cases.

Publication of 'Pillar Two' data means the total number of confirmed positive cases in Northamptonshire between the beginning of May and the end of June is expected to multiply.

How Northants compares with other areas in the country on the latest table of C Covid-19 cases

Northants Director of Public Health Lucy Wightman said: “This data may initially appear concerning but I want to reassure residents there is no cause for alarm.

"We welcome the fact that Pillar Two testing data is now being published and the new data reflects the fact that many more people with milder coronavirus symptoms have been able to

access testing locally over the past two months.

"Overall in Northamptonshire, the trend of new infections is still reducing and hospitalisations and deaths due to Covid-19 continue to decline.

County health chief Lucy Wightman

“However, I must emphasise that the virus has not gone away, and I continue to urge everyone to stay alert and act responsibly in helping us to control the virus

and keep transmission rates low."

Northamptonshire is 28th in a latest Public Health England table of 150 areas judged by the latest number of new coronavirus cases in the week ending June 21.

We have consistently reported the number of positive tests in Northamptonshire according to figures published by the government daily since the first case here was recorded on March 3.

But it has now emerged those numbers only include tests among hospital patients and key workers — known as Pillar One data. More tests carried out at mobile sites, at home and privately — Pillar Two tests — will only be added to the official bulletin for the first time today.

Even local health officials admit there have been delays in getting hold of the Pillar Two figures.

According to Government data for Leicester, the city had 80 new positive tests between June 13 and 26. Yet, Health Secretary Matt Hancock revealed the true number was 944 including the Pillar Two results when he announced the local lockdown this week.

That has raised alarms about people travelling across the border this weekend as pubs and restaurants can reopen in Northamptonshire.

Man venues are also staying shut voluntary in Bedford, which is fifth on the national list.

But Mrs Wightman, admitted: "We don't have powers to restrict people's movement.

"We are acutely aware of the fact that we are likely to see people travel from Leicester in areas where lockdown has been imposed to Corby and potentially Kettering.

"It is a risk and something we are discussing.

"As lockdown measures ease, it is essential that we act responsibly and minimise risks of increased transmission rates. It is easy to see from other areas how the number of cases can increase rapidly, with far-reaching consequences.

“Such situations reinforce the importance of booking a test via the government website if you have any of the three main symptoms of Coronavirus; a new persistent cough, a high temperature or a loss or change in your smell and taste. Every positive test means that contact tracing can be used to reduce onward transmission and save lives.

“If you have COVID-19 symptoms – however mild – it is vitally important you self-isolate immediately and, should you test positive, that you help the NHS Test and Trace service identify your recent contacts. If you are asked to self-isolate because someone you have been in contact with has tested positive, you must do so.

"Everyone has a vital role to play in reducing the spread of the virus.”