NEW government advice has been issued for people in areas where the Indian variant of coronavirus is spreading fastest.
Blackburn with Darwen and Burnley are amongst the worst hit boroughs, where the new advice, which urges people to meet outdoors wherever possible and not to travel outside of affected areas, now applies.
Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council deputy leader Councillor Phil Riley however said he was suprised that the government has decided on this advice, given the nature of the cases concerned.
He said: “While the numbers are increasing, all the evidence is that the cases are very much concentrated amongst teenagers and young people.
“That is what we expected because clearly the vaccine hasn’t arrived there yet.”
He added: “The overwhelming majority of cases are in schools and educational settings while the number of critical cases in hospitals are much reduced from what we’ve seen previously.
“So I am very suprised that the government has decided on this course of action.”
No official announcement has been made but the gov.uk website now includes a section with stricter advice for areas with the fastest spread of the Indian variant.
The government says anyone in these boroughs should:
- Meet outside rather than inside where possible
- Keep two metres apart from people that they don’t live with (unless they have formed a support bubble with them), this includes friends and family they don’t live with
- Avoid travelling in and out of affected areas unless it is essential, for example for work (if they cannot work from home) or education
Residents in Blackburn with Darwen and Burnley should also:
- Get tested twice a week for free and isolate if they are positive
- Continue to work from home if they can
- Get vaccinated when they are offered it, and encourage others to do so as well
Four East Lancashire boroughs are among the areas with the top ten highest coronvirus case rates in England.
According to Public Health England’s most recent findings, Blackburn with Darwen has seen the second highest weekly rise in cases, going from 114.2 cases per 100,000 last week to 280.6 as well as the second highest weekly rate in England overall.
Elsewhere in East Lancashire, Rossendale recorded the fourth highest rise, going from a rate of 21.0 to 76.9 over the same week, leaving the borough with the fifth highest rate overall.
Burnley and Hyndburn were also found to have the sixth and seventh highest rates in England, with Pendle and the Ribble Valley the only East Lancashire boroughs coming outside the top ten.
The Indian variant hot spots covered by the new guidelines are:
- Bedford Borough Council
- Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council
- Bolton Metropolitan Borough Council
- Burnley Borough Council
- Kirklees Council
- Leicester City Council
- London Borough of Hounslow
- North Tyneside Council
The new advice has reportedly taken local officials in all of these areas by surprise, with MPs, local councils and public health directors not having been consulted.
More to follow…