Further data released by county council

Published: Thu 9 July, 2020

*Shared on behalf of Leicestershire County Council*

Leicestershire County Council has released more detailed data as part of efforts to urge residents to play their part in tackling the rate of coronavirus infection in the county.

As some concerned residents continue to question their inclusion in the lockdown boundary, the council hopes this new data will send a strong signal to all those in Leicestershire that the county must pull together to fight the spread.

Mike Sandys, county council director of public health, said: “The key to getting this under control is in all of our hands. It’s important all residents continue to heed national advice – know the symptoms, get a test if you have symptoms and isolate if you need to.

“We’re not seeing a connection with the spike in Leicester but the county has moved from a position of being well below the national average, to one where we are now comparable. Latest figures suggest that the level of infection is failing to fall as far or as fast as other areas.

“We want people to play their part and protect their community.”

County council leader, Nick Rushton, said: “Our residents’ response to coronavirus has been exemplary. But this is the biggest health crisis in living memory – and there’s still work to do to get on top of this virus before it grows further in Leicestershire.

“This situation is unprecedented and there is no trigger rate for lockdown. As I’ve said, our map is far from perfect. We have to draw lines somewhere but I understand people’s frustration with the lockdown boundary. That’s why we have been working with Public Health England to secure agreement to share information which means that today, we can publish more localised data.

“Times remain challenging but you can help to save lives and livelihoods. Wherever you live, do the right thing. Keep your distance, wash your hands, spot the symptoms and get a test if you need one.”

Data from the start of the pandemic shows:

District

Rate per 100k/pop’n

Blaby

475

Charnwood

424

Harborough

397

Hinckley & Bosworth

471

Melton

294

North West Leicestershire

302

Oadby and Wigston

712

Leicestershire

431

Leicester City

1116

East Midlands

445

England

440

This data, plus a more detailed breakdown is available on our website

All residents in Leicestershire are being asked to book a test if they have symptoms via online or call 119.

FAQs

Q) What is the situation in the county?

The publicly available data on the gov.uk website has been updated to include all community tests, not just the clinical priorities testing.

For example, if you look at that, the rate of cases in Oadby and Wigston is 712 per 100,000 population.  That is lower than the city figure (1,116 per 100,000 population) but significantly higher than the county average (431 per 100,000) and also significantly higher than the national and East Midlands averages.

It is also comparable with areas such as Rotherham and Bradford - which aren’t in lockdown but have been reported as possibly being next if things don’t change. This data has only started coming through comparatively recently and enables us to understand better where we need to focus our efforts.

It also shows that, generally those districts with a border with the city have, since the start of the pandemic had higher rates than others.  Leicestershire has moved from a position of being well below the national average, to one where we are now comparable.It suggests thatthe level of infection is failing to fall as far or as fast as other areas – there is more ‘tinder’ in Leicestershire than elsewhere and we need to take action to dampen it down.

Q) How worried should we be? Will more of the county go into lockdown?

We should all be concerned – and everyone in Leicestershire should be taking steps to stay safe. This isn’t a case of people living in the lockdown areas are somehow in the ‘infected’ zone – we’re all at risk if we’re not able to dampen the rate of infection.

Q) How were lockdown areas chosen and does the new data you’ve published support this?

Within 12 hours of the Secretary of State’s announcement, we’d published a map – followed by a postcode checker that had 120,000 hits in its first day. The virus does not respect administrative boundaries – and our map reflects the areas where we’re seeing higher rates which are generally around the city. The use of easily understandable boundaries, such as the A46, is as solid a reason given the need to define an area in which restrictions need to apply, informed by data on current infection rates. As we’ve said, the map is not perfect.  There is no ‘trigger’ rate for lockdown but we need to get on top of this virus before it spreads further in Leicestershire again. The line does not mark ‘safe’ or ‘unsafe’ areas - everybody needs to take action with regard to their personal behaviour. It’s regrettable we’ve had to single out areas for further restrictions but this reflects our current knowledge on risk.

Q) Why is Hinckley not in the lockdown zone?

The number of cases in Hinckley do stand out in the latest figures, but they weren’t necessarily linked with the Leicester cases and were therefore not included in the latest restrictions.  What we may be seeing there is increased cases in care homes – or a spread from the West Midlands, where the number of cases was higher in the initial weeks of the pandemic.

Q) Why is Scraptoft/Thurnby not in the lockdown zone?

The map isn’t perfect – and we’ve been open about that since the start of this. Wherever you draw a line – it would make some people unhappy. At one point in the conversations about the boundary the whole county could have been included in the lockdown. But, it was a decision based on the available data at the time and the need to dampen the infection rate in the urban area surrounding Leicester city.

Q) Why have you not published this more localised data before? Will you publish the postcode level data?

We started getting this data from Public Health England at the end of June and we were not allowed to publish postcode level data - not because we wanted to hide it but we were only allowed to use it for ‘planning and service purposes’.  That’s why we have worked with PHE to change the use of the data – and that now includes sharing with the public – that’s why we’ve published more information today.

Q) What is the R rate for Leicestershire/town?

There is no R rate beneath regional areas, so we can’t use that measurement locally. What’s important is that the number of cases per population is failing to fall as far or as fast as other areas.

Q) There are lots of questions about the map/boundary.  Lots of people are angry that they’ve been included because you’ve simply followed the A46 or M1 for ease?

Sadly, there are some residents who feel the boundary is unfair. It isn’t easy to create a boundary under significant time pressure which pleases everyone. As we’ve said – the map isn’t perfect. The use of administrative boundaries such as ‘the whole of Blaby’ didn’t make sense – and as we know the virus doesn’t respect administrative boundaries.

The use of easily understandable areas, such as the inside the M1 or A46 was used to define the edge of the area, informed by data on current infection rates.

There is no ‘trigger’ rate for lockdown but we need to get on top of this virus before it spreads further in Leicestershire again. The line does not mark ‘safe’ or ‘unsafe’ areas - everybody needs to take action with regard to their personal behaviour. It’s regrettable we’ve had to single out areas for further restrictions but this reflects our current knowledge on risk.

Q) Some people have queried the death rates in different areas – and said the areas of lockdown have had fewer deaths?

Covid-related deaths have, sadly, been driven to a large extent by care home outbreaks over the course of the pandemic.  

The current situation is about responding to the levels of infections in the wider community. From the more detailed data published today, most cases are in a much younger population. So the death rate isn’t something that has driven the lockdown decisions.

Q) People are worried that this has tainted the reputation of Leicestershire?

This is a global health emergency, the like of which we’ve never seen before. We’ve never had to manage national or local lockdown. There was always going to be a first into local lockdown – and no one wanted it to be Leicester. The best thing we can do is work together to get out of lockdown fast – and share our learning with the rest of the country as they face similar challenges.

There’s an opportunity here – for the city and county to be an example of how to do local lockdown and how to get out of it.

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