Health chiefs hit out at reports Swindon and Wiltshire ‘could go to Tier 3 Covid restrictions’

COUNCIL health chiefs have denied national newspaper claims that Swindon and Wiltshire could be moved to Tier 3 Covid restrictions.

The Sun, The Times and the Mailonline all reported that the areas are at risk of being downgraded tomorrow when tiers across England are reviewed by the government.

But Swindon Borough and Wiltshire Council have been quick to shoot down the claims.

The current case rate in all ages for Swindon as of Monday is 111.6 per 100,000, down from its peak of 216.5 per 100,000 on the November 18.

Steve Maddern, the borough council’s director of public health, said: “Our Covid-19 case rate has been steadily falling since reaching a peak four weeks ago, so we were surprised to read in the national media that Swindon is at risk of moving into Tier 3.

“The Tier system is based on several factors including the case detected rates in all age groups and the case detected rates in the over 60s; the rate in which cases are rising or falling; the positivity rate (number of positive cases detected as a percentage of tests taken) and pressure on the local NHS, including current and projected.

“The Government has not shared with local authorities the thresholds for moving up or down Tiers and we do not have any input into discussions on Tier positions.

“At this moment in time, we are not anticipating that we will move into Tier 3 later this week, but we would encourage local residents to keep following the public health guidance to ensure we maintain the downward trajectory in our case rate so we are not at greater risk of moving up the Tier system.”

According to official government data, the Wiltshire Council area rate is 67.4 cases per 100,000.

Wiltshire’s public health director, Kate Blackburn said case numbers had dropped in recent weeks but it was important remain be vigilant moving into the festive season.

“Case levels are recorded by the government but we have no reason to believe that our areas will be increased to the very high alert tier when the tiers are reviewed on December 16,” she said

“Wiltshire Council continues to work hard to reduce cases and I want to thank people for taking responsibility and ensuring they follow all the necessary measures.”

A Wiltshire Council spokesman added: “A national news item reported figures from an organisation called joinzoe where people can put in if they have Covid-19 symptoms and from this suggested increased figures could mean Tier 3.”

According to The Sun, the Covid Symptom Study app shows Swindon and Wiltshire are among Tier 2 areas struggling to overcome Covid-19 and long with London, Essex, Thurrock and Southend-on-Sea, and our south west neighbours Somerset, Bath and North East Somerset, and Gloucestershire

The assessment is based on the number of people currently known to have Covid-19 in the county, the infection R rate and the number of beds currently occupied at the hospitals.

And with London and the south-east’s case rate increasing, Matt Hancock, the Conservative government’s secretary of state for health was expected to announce the capital was to be moved into Tier 3 a day before the official review.

But the case rate figures for Swindon and Wiltshire are significantly lower than some of the other areas and, crucially, are dropping.

The latest seven-day average of infections per 100,000 people in Swindon is down to 115.7, with Wiltshire’s at 67.4.

That compares to the latest rate of 240 infections per 100,000 in London and a rate above 180 in Gloucestershire.

The case rate in Bath and North east Somerset has risen in the last week from 85 to 102.

In the south west, Bristol, North Somerset, and South Gloucestershire are already in Tier 3.

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