South Ribble not yet a "prime area of concern" over Covid - but steps needed to keep it that way

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South Ribble's level of Covid infections has yet not made the borough a "prime area of concern", a top public health official has said.

Abdul Razaq, Lancashire's acting director of public health, was speaking at a press conference where it was revealed that the partial lockdown measures introduced in Preston a week ago would remain in place as case numbers there continued to increase.

On Wednesday, South Ribble Borough Council revealed that the district had also witnessed an upturn in infections - with 21 identified in the space of a fortnight.

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While he stressed the importance of keeping the virus under control in the district, Mr. Razaq said Covid rates in South Ribble were "relatively low", compared to areas like Preston and East Lancashire, where additional restrictions are in place banning the mixing of households in most circumstances.

South Ribble reported an increase in infections - but not at the level of neighbouring PrestonSouth Ribble reported an increase in infections - but not at the level of neighbouring Preston
South Ribble reported an increase in infections - but not at the level of neighbouring Preston

He said that the borough – and neighbouring Chorley – were “stepping up plans around high-risk businesses, making sure they are actually Covid-secure – and making sure the message is being reinforced and pushing for additional testing in those areas”.

“They are very much early preventative measures at this stage, but we want to get ahead and make sure we are working with those communities before things potentially escalate further.”

The latest Public Health England data shows that there were six confirmed Covid cases in South Ribble in the seven days to 11th August - and the rolling seven-day average is declining after a slight spike earlier in the month.

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In Chorley, there were 10 infections recorded over the same period - and the borough's seven-day average also began to decline after a gradual increase seen since late July.

In contrast, partially locked down Preston saw 62 cases in that timeframe.

Chair of the Lancashire Resilience Forum, Angie Ridgwell, said that the whole county had to demonstrate to the government that "we do take this seriously".

"We do need to work together to make sure we bring those rates down. Most people have been absolutely brilliant...and we urge you to continue [in that way].

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"But there are a small minority who are not playing by the rules and it’s really important that we do so - because it’s only by everyone playing their part that we can make a difference and get back to some semblance of normal life as soon as we possibly can.

"Most of the businesses [in Lancashire] are acting responsibly in terms of protecting their clientele – but there are some businesses that are not being responsible - [and] where they are not, we will be taking action," Ms Ridgwell warned.