Coronavirus situation in Flintshire “stable” but “of concern” says chief executive
Flintshire council’s chief executive has said the situation with regards to Coronavirus in the county was “stable” but “of concern.”
Colin Everett delivered the latest “Emergency Situation Briefing” to senior councillors during a virtual cabinet meeting on Tuesday.
It was revealed earlier this week that Flintshire, along with Denbighshire, Anglesey and Conway are now on the Welsh Government’s daily ‘watch’ list.
That’s becuse the number of people testing positive for COVID-19 – over a seven day period – has reached a key marker of 25 cases per 100,000 population.
On Tuesday Dr Giri Shankar, Incident Director for the Coronavirus outbreak response at Public Health Wales said the four north Wales counties were now in the “amber zone” and the number of cases is being “closely monitored.”
Local lockdown measures have now come into force in six south Wales counties following a significant rise in COVID-19.
People in Bridgend, Blaenau Gwent, Merthyr Tydfil, Newport, Caerphilly and Rhondda Cynon Taf are now not being able to enter or leave the areas without a reasonable excuse.
Those counties which are now in local lockdowns have hit the 50 cases in 100,000 population mark, a point in which the government will intervene with enhanced measures.
“If case numbers continue to go up in similar patterns that we have seen in the six local authority areas then local lockdowns will have to be considered in north Wales.” Said Dr Shanker.
In a bid to prevent a fresh coronavirus crisis, First Minister Mark Drakeford made televised addresses to the people of Wales on Tuesday evening to talk about new measures being introduced.
He announced that from Thursday, pubs, restaurants and bars in Wales will have to close at 10pm, as new measures are introduced in Wales to prevent a fresh coronavirus crisis.
Hospitality businesses will have to provide table service only from Thursday and all off-licences, including supermarkets, will have to stop selling alcohol at 10pm.
Mr Drakeford asked people to “only travel when you need to do so” and reiterated people needed to continue working from home wherever possible.
During yesterdays cabinet meeting Flintshire council leader Ian Roberts said the “emergency situation” over the last few weeks in Wales has become “considerably graver.”
He said it was, “hardly surprising after a summer of ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ encouraging us all to go to various places and attractions and spend money.”
Colin Everett said: “The trends we’re seeing in the UK and Wales are very much as predicted on the modelling.”
“The more society is unlocked, the more risk there is, the more intervention measures are put in place, the more it slows the transmission.”
“We’re in a stable situation in Flintshire and north Wales, but it’s a situation of concern.
As of the weekend, north Wales is now in a situation of being monitored on a daily basis by Welsh government.” He said.
“If the rate goes above 25 per 100,000, you go into a watching brief, if it goes over 50 per 100,000 then we would potentially be in an intervention situation like a local lockdown.”
On average Flintshire has seen between “six and nine positive cases reported per day in the past few weeks, if we get seven days of seven cases, that’s 49 cases which isn’t a huge number in its own right, but it would put us over the 25 per 100,000 case incidence rate.
Once we pass 40 cases in a week we’re into that that group, therefore, we are in an area where we’ve been watched along with the other three north Wales counties.” Mr Everett said.
Public Health Wales data dashboard currently shows Flintshire has a rate of 19.2 cases per 100,000 popualtion over the past seven days but Mr Everett said that is “lower than the true figures because of the time lag of test results”
“We’re at around 25 cases per 100,000, but I’m awaiting confirmation on that. I’m trying not to alarm you, but nonetheless it has tipped us here into around 25 per 100,000” he told cabinet members.
He said: “The reassurance on this is there are no trends of concern in Flintshire, we are able to identify the cases and largely track them.
Do we have a big pattern that’s of concern? No we don’t.”
Mr Everett said new cases in Flintshire are ‘primarily in social settings from homes, families, friendship groups and licensed premises, that’s not to say the licensed premises have done anything wrong, It’s just a fact people are congregating in indoor spaces.” He said.
“Cases have been reported from people working in factories and schools but the numbers “have been small.” He said.
“We have had to give advice to over 300 pupils to self isolate in the last seven to 10 days as a precaution.” Mr Everett added.
All north Wales councils are working with Public Health Wales and Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board to deliver a contact tracing service across the region.
Employed by Flintshire County Council, contact tracing teams are aligned to each of the six north Wales councils.
The chief executive said that between the 7th and 19th of September “we had 283 people in North Wales who were contacted (having tested positive for COVID-19) and between them they had 1660 social contacts that we had to reach.”
“The success rate in contacting those people was around 80 percent, which is far higher than the English figures.”
“Sometimes people don’t cooperate or don’t reply, sometimes people have given erroneous contact information, it isn’t a perfect system.
The new NHS contact tracing app will launch later this week “and come into play in Wales next week.” said, Mr Everett.
“It will make accuracy and the speed of contacting people much better, you can see as time goes on, this whole system becomes more and more sophisticated, which is just as well, because the winter is going to be a very, very challenging, tricky period.” He warned.
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