Windsor and Maidenhead warned Covid-19 cases could rise after Christmas

CHRISTMAS poses a “genuine risk” to coronavirus case numbers in the Royal Borough – amid warnings cases could increase after the festivities.

At a health and wellbeing board on December 8 (Tuesday), Tessa Lindfield, strategic director of public health for Berkshire, urged residents to be careful during the holiday season as up to three households will be allowed to form a ‘Christmas bubble’ between December 23 – 27.

She said: “There’s a very high chance of cases ticking up after Christmas because the more opportunities we have to be within coughing distance with people within that two metres, spending time with people, is what increases our chance of transmitting Covid.

“We’re asking people to really think about how they can do Christmas in a safe way as possible and I think that’s really important for us because there is a real risk around this increasing contact between people in that holiday period and it will, of course, result in increased cases if we’re not really, really careful.”

READ MORE: Coronavirus in Windsor and Maidenhead – Areas with fewest infections

It is estimated 2,000 to 2,500 university students will return to the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead (RBWM) for the Christmas period from December 3 – 9 in a staggered way, based on departure dates set by the universities.

Testing is available for students before travelling home and if one tests positive, they will have to remain in self-isolation for 10 days.

Ms Lindfield urged residents to follow the winter plan by maintaining washing hands frequently, wearing a face cover in enclosed environments, minimising the number of people you meet, opening windows for good ventilation, and maintaining social distancing.

She said: “Less is more. Less mingling, the more chance of coming out of this sooner and it’s hopefully only one Christmas.”

The lead member for health, councillor Stuart Carroll (Conservative: Boyn Hill), said RBWM will be “uplifting communications significantly” to ensure residents are aware of what the guidance does and doesn’t allow during Christmas and to discourage pushing the restrictions to the “absolute extreme”.

READ MORE: Windsor and Maidenhead could open Covid-19 vaccination hubs before Christmas

During Ms Lindfield’s presentation, she said RBWM is “just about seeing the effects of lockdown” as the number of cases has dropped in recent weeks.

Data recorded from November 26 to December 2 shows RBWM’s infection rate stands at 106 per 100,000 population – a 34 per cent reduction compared to two weeks prior.

However, she was “worried” about the cases in the over 60s increasing by 74 per cent over the last week to 101.4 per 100,000 – largely due to a number of outbreaks in care homes.

She said: “It is lower than the peak, we haven’t gone back to the state that we were in the beginning of November – but clearly things aren’t quite going in the right direction at the moment.”

According to Ms Lindfield, over 150 residents have died of Covid-19 since the beginning of March with 57 per cent of those deaths occurring in hospitals and 35 per cent in care homes.

Royal Borough Observer | News WIndsor