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Public health chiefs at Bedford Borough hope to stop a ‘damaging’ Leicester-style lockdown

A report into why the town has a high infection rate is due to be sent to Bedford Council in draft form on Monday (6 July 2020) before being published a week later. But a meeting on Thursday (2 July 2020) heard a few tidbits from it which the council is set to use in safety messages.

Christine McHugh (Lib Dem, Goldington), is the councillor responsible for social care resilience.

What the deep dive and the testing data has shown, interestingly, is that Bedford is flagging up a lot of women of working age who are being infected,” she said.

Obviously we can only guess why. These are women of working age, so are they mums going to school?  Are they people working in the supermarkets? Are they cleaning?  Are they carers?

Working age men are also being picked up in the data to a lesser extent.

So really our messages should probably be focused at this point at working aged people,” said Cllr McHugh.

And they are the people out and about, maybe on the buses, maybe they nip into several shops when they are out and touch lots of things.”

Councillors at the first meeting of the council’s local outbreak engagement board stressed that people should remember to wash their hands, stay at home as much as possible, keep 2m distance, and wear masks inside. Cllr McHugh said:

Don’t be afraid, don’t live in fear but just take those precautions that we had got used to taking and maybe now we’ve got a bit lax.”

Public health chiefs at the council hope to stop a ‘damaging’ Leicester-style lockdown in Bedford. And they believe they are in a better position than the East Midlands city because they remain sceptical about data.

The council is starting to get information down to postcode level, which will allow them to swoop on problem patches. The Lib Dem mayor said the council has beefed up its environmental health team from four to 10. They have the power to close workplaces.

The council hopes by stamping on the coronavirus before it has a chance to infect more people they will prevent a lockdown. Wendy Rider (Lib Dem, Brickhill) the councillor in charge of adult services asked for talks with bus companies because customers are travelling without masks.

And Tory group leader Cllr Graeme Coombes (Wilshamstead) appealed for people to act responsibly at the weekend when pubs re-open.

We want to get the businesses up and running but it will be to no avail if we get a second spike,” he said.

Cllr Doug McMurdo (Ind, Sharnbrook) who is responsible for the council’s leisure and culture portfolio spoke of a “bit of hysteria in rural area in regard to the fear of a lockdown.”

The mayor said the council will be monitoring Leicester over the weekend to see if people drive out to villages.