Rising Covid cases ‘concerning’ and driven by younger age groups socialising says Flintshire council chief executive
The growing number of new Coronavirus across Flintshire is a ‘concern’ but the message is that “there is no need for overreaction,” Flintshire Council’s chief executive said.
Colin Everett said the Delta variant is in such prominence “it’s close to 100% of all test results in North Wales.”
Speaking at a press briefing today, First Minister Mark Drakeford said scientific advisors believe the United Kingdom is “now at the pre peak stage of a third wave of this pandemic.”
“Wales, maybe two to three weeks behind what is happening in England and in Scotland.” He said.
During a meeting of Flintshire Council’s Recovery Committee on Thursday, Colin Everett told councillors: “We need to be careful how we explain the next few weeks to the public in a way that doesn’t over worry people because people relate back to the second wave and the first wave which were far greater this.”
Mr Everett said: “The number of cases coming through now is increasing significantly, the doubling rate is about nine days.”
“In other words, if you had a certain figure of cases a day and don’t intervene, that number will double in nine days, then that figure will double when it goes in growth.”
The large majority of those in Flintshire being infected said Mr Everett are “20 to 29-year-olds, then the age group immediately below and the age group immediately above, so broadly we’re talking teenagers to 40-year-olds are the most at risk [of infection].”
The chief executive said, “it’s easy to jump to the conclusion that that’s because those are the people who have been vaccinated least, that’s not the only explanation, it’s also about social behaviours because it’s generally community transmission.”
“The number of serious infections that turn themselves into health conditions has very low, the number of admissions to hospital in Wales is still very low compared to previous waves, and the number of admissions to intensive care is extremely low.”
“We’re all hoping that with the age and infection profile, that even with greater numbers of cases that will happen, we won’t necessarily get anywhere close to hospital risk [like last winter] which is the predominant concern.”
Mr Everett said: “Nobody is being complacent, but the risks are different to the winter last year.”
“The current cases are concerning, a couple of weeks ago we were down to some days where we had one or two new index cases coming into the Flintshire Test and Trace Service, some days that was zero.”
He said that in the past seven days, the Flintshire Test and Trace Service has dealt with 78 cases, overnight (Wednesday) he said there was a further 26 cases.
“Clearly, the more relaxed the regulations and the better the weather the more people will socialise.” The chief executive said.
“Last year if somebody had tested positive they’d tell us they’ve met one or two people which we would have to follow up with his contacts, the 78 cases last week have had 359 contacts who then need to be traced.”
“It’s not that people doing anything wrong, it’s because the rules are being relaxed and people are socialising in greater numbers.” He added.
The incidence rate in Flintshire – the number of cases per 100,000 population over a 7 day period – “was as low as seven or six a couple of weeks ago, today it is a low number compared to the winter, but it’s now 37.2.”
“Last autumn that would have put it in an Amber category, those classifications have changed, but you can see how it’s increasing.” Said Mr Everett.
“The test positivity rate has gone up enormously, this is the percentage of people who are tested positive.”
“We were under one couple of weeks ago, today we’re at 4.2%.” He said.
The council chief explained that the North Wales figures are more challenging than other parts of Wales, “most of the counties at the top of the table are in north Wales, you can see ( the increase in rates is travelling) east to west, a transmission that we’ve seen before.” He said.
“That is very clearly explained by our proximity to England and people travelling between the two.”
“We all know that the northwest of England, including Cheshire and Wirral who are at a more advanced stage (in terms of infection rates).” He added.
Mr Everett said the message here is “that there is no need for overreaction because this will not have the same medical impact as previous.”
“Figures are rising and we’re getting to a position in the region that we are seriously reviewing what other interventions we might need to take.”
“Bear in mind, we don’t have any powers for local lockdowns, we have no additional enforcement powers, those things have to be decided to national Wales or a UK level depending on what day they are.” He said.
Mr Everett made a plea to people “for continued vigilance, use a lateral flow system for constant testing.”
“If you get a call from Test and Trace, please follow the rules (self-isolation) and abide by it.”
“We know the public is worn out and weary from all this advice, it’s been a horrible 15,16 months, but it’s so, important that people continue to work with us.” He said.
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