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Coronavirus Deep Dive Report published

August 4, 2020 2:40 PM

Coronavirus graphicFollowing interim findings published last month, the Bedford Borough COVID-19 Deep Dive Final Report has now been published this report does not provide answers to some of the key questions about what has happened since the start of this crisis. Those questions would need a different sort of inquiry, this Report looks at transmission.

This report confirms that the local COVID-19 infection rate has declined since mid-June and that there was no singular cause of the higher infection rate seen in Bedford Borough.

While the local infection rate has decreased since mid-June, there has been an increase in new infections in the last two weeks, so the situation will be monitored closely and the public are being urged to remain cautious.

The infection rate in Bedford Borough had been highest in the East of England and I, along with colleagues asked for not just more and better data but an investigation into the reasons for our high infection rate.

In response, Bedford Borough Council, Bedfordshire CCG, and Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust worked with Public Health England and the Joint Biosecurity Centre to investigate why the rate was high, and what could be done to bring it down in this 'Deep Dive'.

The investigation found that most cases followed people being exposed within their households and household visitors, with exposures elsewhere remaining low. The most recent cases have been among people of working age, and within Bedford town.

The investigation looked at coronavirus infections in healthcare settings, care homes and workplaces and concluded that there was no one cause of the higher local infection rate.

Following interim recommendations published three weeks ago, action has been taken to increase testing capacity at Bedford Hospital, and to increase engagement with communities where more cases were seen.

The report also noted the collaborative partnership working across local, regional and national organisations, and this is set to continue.

The final recommendations of the 'Deep Dive' report include continued work to communicate with and engage with local communities, continuing to support care homes, and ensuring all local outbreaks are reported to the Director of Public Health.

While the local infection rate has decreased since mid-June, there has been an increase in new infections in the last two weeks, so the situation will be monitored closely and the public are being urged to remain cautious.

People are being reminded to continue to observe the 2m social distancing policy, wear a face covering - especially on public transport, shops, and crowded places, and wash your hands regularly with soap and water, or hand sanitiser if that is unavailable.

Anyone with symptoms, including a new persistent cough, high temperature or a change or loss of taste or smell should immediately self-isolate and arrange a test via nhs.uk/coronavirus or by calling 119.

I am grateful to Public Health England for undertaking this work and to local partners for their co-operation. Since the Deep Dive analysis was completed, the number of local cases has crept up and we continue to see a higher infection rate than the East of England average, so we cannot be complacent and must continue to follow social distancing and other advice.

In terms of recent transmission and looking at how we can continue to control infection rates, what I take from this is the importance of good practices in all workplaces so employees can work safely, and the importance of every individual continuing to follow preventative measures in the home and while out and about.

Most Bedford Borough residents have been great at following the guidance and I would urge residents to keep following the guidelines.

You can read the Final Report here.