But the town remains an area of concern for the government, with no change in its place on Public Health England’s coronavirus watchlist. The case rate in the town has fallen from 46.8 cases per 100,000 people last week to 44.1 cases this week, according to the watchlist table.
The latest watchlist table published this afternoon Picture: PUBLIC HEALTH ENGLAND
The borough’s director of public health Steve Maddern said efforts to tackle the virus had been ramped up in the past week, with the focus on SN1 and SN2 postcode areas where the majority of new cases have been.
He said: “The government feels assured that at a local level we’re doing everything we could or should be doing to support our population and are giving us a bit of time to just allow those messages to embed in and see what the outcome is in relation to that.
“Our case rate is reducing, not as fast or as quick as we would like but it is going down.”
Officials were concerned earlier this week after a spike of 50 new covid cases over the weekend. Since then, however, it has fallen to around 10 new cases per day.
According to the latest figures, 1,047 people have tested positive for the virus in Swindon.
More confirmed cases are expected in the coming days. A new pop-up test centre that opened in the County Ground car park on Wednesday tested 125 people on its first day of opening and 147 on Thursday. That is in addition to the up to 2,000 people that can be tested daily at the regional test centre in Wroughton Park and Ride.
Mr Maddern urged anyone who felt like they might have coronavirus to get tested. “If you experience any kind of symptom we would just rather you would go and test rather than wait for symptoms to develop.”
Your questions answered:
Will we go into lockdown again?
At the moment, Swindon health officials say we won’t. Although if – and when – we do, it will be up to the government and not the council.
What would a local lockdown look like?
It depends. Officials have the power to shut non-essential shops, pubs, leisure facilities and limit people’s movement. But it’s unlikely it would go that far. In places like Manchester, people have been banned from meeting friends and family inside or in gardens.
Would the whole of Swindon need to go into lockdown?
No. Interestingly, Steve Maddern said this morning that individual postcodes could be put on lockdown.
Who decides when lockdown measures are put in place?
Ultimately, it’s a decision for the government. However, the council would want it to be a shared decision between bosses at the Civic Offices and civil servants in Whitehall, as has happened elsewhere.
How would I be told if Swindon were going into lockdown?
Mr Maddern said: “Through any means possible.” At the moment it doesn’t sound like the council are looking at, for example, blanket text alerts. It would most likely be through social media and the traditional media.
Can I book a facial or a slot at the soft play area for my kids?
With lockdown measures easing for a number of different businesses, this was understandably asked a couple of times at the council’s media briefing on Friday morning.
Mr Maddern told reporters people should treat themselves.
“As long as you are doing what you need to be doing to look after yourself then the business should be doing what they need to be doing to look after themselves,” he said.
“We know in regard to things like beauticians and facialists, when you go to have that treatment done you will be following a strict protocol by them, they will be wearing masks and visors. We can never say there is no risk but it’s about how we work together to make sure the risk is incredibly low.
“Treat yourself. If you feel like a facial, go for a facial.”
Who is testing positive?
At the start of the pandemic it was more men. Now, more women are testing positive for the virus. It’s all ages.
People from black, Asian and ethnic minority communities make up 50 per cent of recent cases, despite representing around 15 per cent of Swindon’s population. This is in line with the picture nationally, the council says.
Many people who are testing positive at the moment are asymptomatic, in other words they’re not showing symptoms of the virus.