Carlisle is at risk of a possible Coronavirus resurgence after a "small but concerning rise" in Covid-19 cases with health bosses having a plan in place in case a local lockdown is required.
It has been named in the top 20 authorities most at risk of having to implement a local lockdown according to a leaked government document.
An official public health warning has been issued for people in the city to be on their guard and follow the current guidance fully.
The rise follows an easing of lockdown rules in the past few weeks however the reasons for the increase in the Carlisle area are still being investigated and additional data will become available next week.
According to recent data, in the week ending July 3 there were 18 new cases per 100,000 residents in Carlisle. This has increased from 8 new cases per 100,000 residents in the previous week ending June 26. For comparison the rate of new cases in England week ending July 3 was 6 new cases per 100,000 residents.
Currently available data shows that from July 1 to July 7 there were 21 positive COVID-19 cases in Carlisle district area, with just an additional 10 positive COVID-19 cases across the rest of Cumbria. Data is updated daily and is being monitored closely.
Cumbria County Council has suggested that as lockdown has eased people have been in more contact with each other which has resulted in increased infections.
An investigation is also underway to find out if the outbreak at Cumberland Infirmary is related to this.
It also said the NHS is taking robust action to control the outbreak and it is important that people who require medical care continue to use the hospital as normal.
Anna Stabler, Chief Nurse at North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust said,
“We are caring for people with coronavirus in our hospitals and have a small outbreak at the Cumberland Infirmary that is being actively managed. This is in line with what we might expect given the recent easing of lockdown and the hospital becoming busier as services are restarted.
“We are taking additional measures to contain the outbreak on site in the interests of safety of our patients and staff however we need the help of the whole community to prevent further new cases in Carlisle. We are appealing to the public to adhere social distancing measures to protect people who are most vulnerable including those patients who do require urgent treatments for conditions such as cancers and stroke.
“The public can also help by attending appointments if you are invited and using our services appropriately. If it is not an emergency, call 111, see a pharmacist, or book a GP appointment. If you are seriously injured or sick, go to your nearest A&E or call 999."
The Carlisle rate is still significantly below the rate which prompted local lockdown measures in Leicester however a government document leaked to the Observer and the Guardian has placed the city council as 20th most at risk.
The chart, titled 'Local Authority Areas of Interest' was compiled by Public Health England (PHE) and ranks councils with the highest proportion of positive cases.
Leicester remains at the top with 5.7%, Kirklees, in West Yorkshire with a 5% rate and Blackburn with Darwen in Lancashire not far behind with 4.9% and Bradford scoring 4.3%. Carlisle is placed at 2.8%.
Cumbria's health bosses are confirmed to be preparing for a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic and have a plan in place in case a local lockdown is required
Public health consultant Matt Saunders told a meeting of Cumbria County Council’s health and wellbeing board that age-standardised mortality rates for the county showed COVID-19 related deaths had been lower than the national average in May and and the England average.
He admitted that preparations were being made in case a second wave of the pandemic did hit later in the year however as some people have predicted.
Mr Saunders said: “All causes of deaths are currently at levels we would expect to see in a normal year so they have really come down from the peak that we had in early April, back down to normal levels.
“It certainly feels to me like we are entering the eye of the storm in a way. We are hopeful that we will not see a second wave but we continue to be vigilant and to prepare in case there is one.”
Cumbria City Council are urging the public to take the following key actions:
· Maintain social distancing in line with current advice
· Wash hands regularly
· If you have symptoms, get tested and self-isolate until you know the outcome
· Follow the advice of Contact Tracers if they get in touch
· Wear a face covering or mask where required
Symptoms of coronavirus are:
Local testing is available in Carlisle at mobile testing units at Brunton Park on the following dates:
14-15 July, 21-22 July, 28-29 July. Tests must be booked through national website here.
Tests can also be booked at the Penrith drive-through test centre via this website.
More information on the situation in Carlisle can be found here.