As I write the number of confirmed COVID 19 cases within Bury continues to rise.
The most up to date figures record 269 positive cases between the 11th and 17th September, an increase from 164 the week before. However, areas within our Borough continue in my view to have very low numbers of new cases. For example, Ramsbottom has had 33 positive cases since the 12th June up to the 17th September and for the same period, Moorside has had 39. What does this mean? In my view, we cannot look at COVID 19 simply through the prism of these numbers but must have a more nuanced view of the virus if we are to make correct policy decisions.
The Prime Minister is poised to announce further COVID 19 restrictions on our freedoms to reduce the spread of the virus but is this the right action to take? I believe the introduction of draconian measures can only be justified if we are seeing an increase in mortality rates and hospitalizations. In a perfect world, we want no one to be impacted by the virus but if the evidence suggests the vast number of people who catch Coronavirus will have no long term health effects at all I believe we should be very cautious in implementing measures that could have such a negative impact on our wider economy and fellow citizens. There has been no recorded death in this country of a child from COVID 19 who was not already profoundly ill and I have yet to be provided with any evidence of high mortality rates in the working-age population. At my last weekly meeting with Bury MBC, it was reported that there had not been a COVID
19 related death in the previous 7 days, indeed since further restrictions were imposed in Bury at the end of July up until the week ending 28th August there were only 3 cases where COVID 19 or Coronavirus was mentioned as a cause of death on any line of the death certificate. In terms of hospital activity as of the 13th September, there were 15 confirmed COVID patients at both Fairfield and North Manchester Hospitals, facilities that cover far larger geographic areas than just our Borough.
I applaud the government and council’s efforts to protect the most vulnerable in our community and we must support our brilliant care homes and staff to take the appropriate measures that are needed to protect residents. Testing of care home staff must be prioritized and other proportionate restrictions introduced on visits to mitigate the health risks posed. Of the 243 deaths recorded in the Metropolitan Borough of Bury since the initial lockdown 69 were recorded in care homes. If national predictions of potential future mortality rates are accurate then protecting those sectors and cohorts of our community that are particularly vulnerable to the virus is essential and I know the managers and staff at all our care homes are doing a wonderful job and deserve our thanks. Having campaigned for the change, I welcome the Health Secretary’s announcement that grandparents will be allowed to provide childcare, relieving the burden on many working parents and we must continue to implement measures that support families and businesses.
We continue to face challenges in the track and trace system, together with testing which needs to be remedied. Last week I was contacted by a teacher who had to wait over 7 days for a test result and this is simply unacceptable and we all know of numerous other examples. But we must all play a part in the national debate as to how we best protect those most at risk from COVID 19.