Testing difficulties mean city remains on yellow covid alert despite fall in cases

Posted On 24 Sep 2020 at 10:18 am

Brighton and Hove is still on yellow alert for covid despite a fall in cases because of the difficulties people have had getting coronavirus tests and results.

The number of cases in the week to 17 September was 47 – a fall from the 59 cases in the previous seven-day period.

This is equivalent to a weekly rate of new cases of 16.2 per 100,000 residents, which is lower than the rate for England, which was 34.9.

But the city’s director of public health Alistair Hill said the numbers may have been affected by difficulties in getting a test.

Meanwhile, the Government’s new Covid contact tracing app, which launched today, says the city is at medium risk.

He said: “Although there has been a fall in the number of confirmed cases in the city, we know many people have found it difficult to get a test during this period, which may affect the numbers of confirmed cases.

“A new local testing site opened in Brighton and Hove this week and appointments must be booked in advance via the NHS website.”

Two local MPs have said that the DHSC is placing limits on the number of people from Brighton and Hove who can get their tests processed.

This week, Brighton Kemptown MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle said: “[The East Brighton site] might increase the testing numbers/DHSC might allocate more slots to the city because of the second site, but both are projected to be under capacity.

“The physical testing will and can take place but DHSC limits the number of people from Brighton who will get their test processed.

“This is why some people using Scottish postcodes are able to get a barcode and get a test in Brighton. The limit is not in the location, it’s is a limit on where people are from.”

And last week, Hove MP Peter Kyle said: “Our testing facilities in Brighton and Hove have been reduced and areas with spikes in contagion have had it increased.

“The Amex testing centre has gone and the Withdean temporary test site is no longer taking walk-in patients. You have to book via the central booking site … but you guessed it, they’re not allowing any new bookings there as they can’t process the backlog let alone cope with new tests.”

Yesterday, one city resident said they had been offered a walk-through slot in South Shields.

Meanwhile, South Lakes MP Tim Farron told the House of Commons on Monday some of his constituents had been offered tests at Withdean.

Dr Hill said the virus was still mainly spreading amongst younger people, who he urged to be extra careful.

He said: “We are still seeing most new cases in young people, particularly those aged 16-24 and know many caught the virus when socialising with friends.

“Although symptoms are usually mild in young people, we are concerned about onward transmission through families out into the community. Covid-19 can still be very dangerous, especially for older or vulnerable people.”

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