Data update reveals over 600 more Covid cases in Preston - but recent improvements in Lancs rate of infection

Lancashire has seen over 3,600 more cases of coronavirus than official statistics have previously shown, new figures reveal.

Friday, 3rd July 2020, 3:57 pm
Updated Friday, 3rd July 2020, 4:04 pm

Preston's revised total has risen by more than any other part of the county - up by 654.

Public Health England (PHE) has now published the results of Covid tests carried out in the community – either via drive-through and mobile testing units or home swab kits – known as ‘pillar 2’ data.

Since the start of the pandemic, only ‘pillar 1’ test results – conducted on those with a clinical need and on health and care staff – have been made public.

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The way Covid test results are published has changed - resulting in an increase in the total number of cases in Preston and right across Lancashire

The updated data reveals that an additional 3,617 people across the whole of Lancashire have tested positive, pushing the county total of known coronavirus cases since the outbreak began to 8,582.

The number of newly-reported cases in Chorley is up by 302, while South Ribble's total is now 223 higher than previously thought.

However, the new figures also contain details of recent changes in the weekly case rate – the number of people testing positive for every 100,000 residents.

Across the county council area, that stat paints a positive picture, with the Lancashire County Council area rate having halved between the week ending 24th June and the week to 30th June – down from 15.0 to 7.4.

That puts Lancashire in the second to lowest bracket on the PHE ‘heat map’ of coronavirus case rates – whereas at the end of May it was amongst the worst affected areas in England.

Dr. Sakthi Karunanithi, the county council’s director of public health, said that it was obvious that the pillar 1 test results released until this point were "just the tip of the iceberg".

“We have a dynamic intelligence framework that picks up signals from hospital admissions, deaths, test and trace as well as soft intelligence picked up from our services and members of the community.

“Whilst the number of positive tests reported have changed, it is reassuring to note that Lancashire’s weekly case rate is decreasing in the last few weeks.

“We are expecting more information on a district basis to be shared with us and will be publishing this every week.

“It is very important to reinforce messages on washing hands, watching two-metre distance and wearing a face covering, along with staying at home and ordering a test if symptomatic,” Dr. Karunanithi said.

As pubs and restaurants prepare to reopen this weekend, Preston City Council leader Matthew Brown said that everybody had a "role to play" by following the guidance.

“We’ve been working hard with organisations throughout the city ahead of welcoming people back this weekend and ask that you enjoy yourselves safely and be mindful of those around you so that we can keep infection rates down.

“The last few months have been difficult for everyone in Preston and we must ensure the progress made that has significantly reduced the infection rate continues. I would ask people to keep this in mind over the weekend,” Cllr Brown said.

Across the whole of Lancashire, as of 2nd July, 1,253 people have died with Covid in the county’s hospitals and care homes.

TOTAL CONFIRMED COVID CASES IN LANCASHIRE AFTER ADDITION OF COMMUNITY TESTING RESULTS (as of 2nd July, 2020)

The figure in brackets shows the increase over the previously-reported figure, which was derived solely from NHS and PHE lab tests.

LANCASHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL AREA – 6,596 (+2,739)

BURNLEY – 437 (+236)

CHORLEY – 667 (+302)

FYLDE – 436 (+153)

HYNDBURN – 316 (+157)

LANCASTER – 879 (+68)

PENDLE – 416 (+214)

PRESTON – 1,144 (+654)

RIBBLE VALLEY – 187 (+82)

ROSSENDALE – 281 (+103)

SOUTH RIBBLE – 504 (+223)

WEST LANCASHIRE – 709 (+315)

WYRE 620 (+232)

BLACKBURN WITH DARWEN – 974 (+550)

BLACKPOOL 1,012 (328)