A DENSE population and front-facing jobs could be some of the reasons the rate of infection wasn’t going down quickly enough in Slough, a health official said.
Yesterday (November 26), the Government announced Slough will enter Tier 3, facing the harshest restrictions, after lockdown ends on December 2.
This means pubs and restaurants will remain closed in the town, unless operating as a takeaway and delivery service, and no mixing outside with people you don’t live with or those who are not in your support bubble either indoors or in private gardens.
As of November 26, the rate of infection per 100,000 people was 313.6 with 218.8 cases in the over 60s, and 328.6 cases in those aged 17-21.
The rate of people testing positive for Covid-19 stood at 11.8 per cent – which is a 0.3 per cent decrease.
At a health scrutiny panel meeting on Thursday, Sue Foley, public health consultant at the council, explained why the borough will enter ‘very high’ alert level from December 2.
She said despite the rate of infection dipping in recent days, it is going down at a “slower” rate compared with other areas.
It was heard a large number of people in Slough work in front-facing jobs such as healthcare, retail, and the transport industry, which increases exposure and could be one of the reasons why cases are not going down quickly.
Covid illnesses are “more likely and significant” as large numbers of people in Slough have conditions which contribute to the town having higher chances of being infected and of experiencing illness from the virus.
The borough also has unique circumstances as it has a high black, Asian, and minority ethnic population and those communities have reportedly been disproportionately affected by coronavirus and are at higher risk.
Ms Foley said: “We are quite densely populated – which makes social distancing more challenging and also around household mixing as well with lots of intergenerational living could be why our rates are not going down as much as other areas.”
She warned the borough may see cases following the Diwali celebrations earlier this month as well as after Christmas time when restrictions ease due to household mixing.
The Government ultimately decided to impose Tier 3 restrictions as they saw the rate of infection in all ages and the percentage of people testing positive still remaining too high despite the slight dip.
The borough could receive some additional funding and support around testing when entering Tier 3 from Public Health England and the Government.
Sue Foley warned they will need to keep a “close eye” on the local NHS as some pressure is rising – but is not in a “bad state” at the moment.
The council will be looking at communicating and encouraging behaviours such as washing hands frequently for 20 seconds, wearing face coverings, keeping windows open to improve ventilation, etc. when Tier 3 kicks in to get that rate down.
This will be homed in on particular wards that have experienced the highest cases.
The Government will review Slough’s Tier allocation on December 16 when it could change depending on how many cases in all age groups are detected, how quickly cases are falling or rising, the positivity rate in the borough’s population, and the pressure on the local NHS.