Oldham ramps up coronavirus restrictions after spike in cases
Health officials in Oldham are introducing new restrictions starting immediately after the town reported a spike in coronavirus cases.
The new guidance, announced on Tuesday and to last two weeks, aims to halt the spread of the virus and avoid a local lockdown as seen in Leicester.
The borough’s 235,000 residents are being asked not to have social visitors to their home and to keep two metres apart from friends and family when seeing them outside.
Care homes will not relax the recent lifting of restrictions on visiting and those people who are “shielding” will also be asked to continue to shield for another two weeks from Friday, July 31.
The new moves come after the number of cases of coronavirus in the borough increased over the last week.
Oldham has seen 119 cases in the seven days to July 25.
By comparison, the week ending July 17 saw just 26 positive cases.
This means a current rate of 50.2 positive tests per 100,000 versus 10.2 per 100,000 the week before.
We’re urging residents to continue to take the risk of coronavirus seriously and to stick to the guidelines
Councillor Arooj Shah, deputy leader of Oldham Council and cabinet member for Covid-19 recovery, said: “We’re urging residents to continue to take the risk of coronavirus seriously and to stick to the guidelines.
“The best way to avoid infection is to limit contact with others as much as possible and to stay home wherever you can, including working from home.
“Limit contact with other people and respect social distancing where you do go out; keeping at least two metres from those not in your household and avoid shaking hands or hugging.
“Where meeting outside you should meet in groups of no more than six people from different households.
“Gatherings larger than six should only take place if everyone is exclusively from two households or support bubbles.
“You should be doing everything possible to avoid taking part in gatherings of more than 30 people.
“Please also ensure you wear a mask where you cannot keep at least two metres from others, particularly in indoor public spaces when you are around people you do not usually meet. This includes, but is not limited to, shops and public transport.”
The local council said a significant proportion of recent cases involve multiple individuals testing positive within a household, pointing towards household spread as the issue, especially in households with large families.
Around 20 per cent of the borough’s population are from Pakistani and Bangladeshi heritage.
We know that effective testing is at the heart of tackling the spread of the virus. We are therefore urging anyone who shows symptoms that may be coronavirus to book a test online
Along with other towns with a large Asian population suffering elevated infection rates, public officials and local politicians say large families, often living in small terraced houses and looking after elderly relatives at home, explain the ethnic population’s vulnerability to the disease.
Katrina Stephens, director of public health for Oldham, said: “We know that effective testing is at the heart of tackling the spread of the virus. We are therefore urging anyone who shows symptoms that may be coronavirus to book a test online.
“Where people test positive or have symptoms, or where people have been in contact with someone who has tested positive, they must ensure they follow the guidance on self-isolation.
“If you have symptoms you should stay at home for seven days and book a test as soon as possible.
“If we all do our bit and stick to the restrictions now, we can help stop the spread of coronavirus, and protect ourselves and our loved ones.”
A helpline is available to support those self-isolating with access to food, medicine, financial support and loneliness on 0161 770 7007.
To book a coronavirus test go to https://www.nhs.uk/ask-for-a-coronavirus-test or call NHS 119.