Jade Bird

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Will Watford remain in the same tier after lockdown ends?

Watford’s Elected Mayor, Peter Taylor, has said this week will play a key role in determining which level of the coronavirus tier system the town is placed in, when lockdown ends on 2nd December. In the latest #AskTheMayor segment on Vibe 107.6, he encouraged ‘everyone to follow the rules’ and noted bringing case number down, ‘will have a big bearing on whether’ Watford stays in tier one (medium) next month. The Mayor cautioned that a move towards a 'higher’ alert level could lead to ‘more restrictions.’

During a press conference on Monday Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, stated the government hoped to reintroduce a national three-tier alert system once England exits its current lockdown. However at the same media briefing Dr Susan Hopkins, Chief Medical Adviser for NHS Test and Trace, explained the existing system would need ‘strengthening’ if it is ‘to get us through the winter months.’ Dr Hopkins added previous tier restrictions ‘had a different effect in each area,’ which gave rise to a varying degree of results across England. In a separate interview on Friday, the Health Secretary revealed there were ‘promising signs' that 'lockdown is working.' He continued to say case numbers were ‘flattening.’

According to the NHS, the latest reproduction number (R number) for the East of England is between 1.0 and 1.3. The Elected Mayor explained ‘the government will be looking at the figures,’ before ‘deciding what tier Watford is placed in.’ He added discussions are set to take place with ministers and Hertfordshire County Council (HCC).

Mayor Taylor elaborated further:

“I expect that in the next sort of 10 days, week and a half, we’ll start to be told which tier we are in. There will be a bit of a discussion about that but ultimately, they’ll be driven a lot by the figures. If Watford’s figures are too high from their perspective, then we will be in a higher tier. Last time just before lockdown, we were really on the margins about whether or not we would go up a tier. This time we need to all really work hard to make sure we stay in tier one. That means we can visit our friends and family, meet them in pubs and restaurants. I think in the run up to Christmas it’s really important that we try as much as we can to bring the figures down, so that we can continue to live a bit of a normal life.”

The government recently announced that a rapid mass testing programme would be rolled out across 67 English local authorities, including Hertfordshire. Over the coming weeks, approximately 100,000 lateral flow tests will be delivered to the County Council, with the ‘most vulnerable’ being prioritised first. In contrast to the commonly used Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests, results from these handheld kits are delivered in less than an hour. There is no need for nose and throat swabs to be sent to laboratories. Lateral flow tests are similar to home pregnancy tests, wherein a marking indicator shows whether an individual obtains a positive result for Covid-19. The devices may also be used to detect asymptomatic cases.

When asked about the possibility of rapid Covid-19 testing for Watford, the Mayor indicated the council was waiting to receive ‘more details’ on this. He told Vibe 107.6 that the Borough Council will ‘provide as many sites and locations as possible, to help’ make the roll out programme ‘work.’ Over the last few months, tests have taken place on Mondays and Thursdays. Additionally, Mr Taylor mentioned plans for testing to become available right across the week, and acknowledged it was a ‘critical part’ of combating the virus.

What is the latest Covid-19 data across South-West Hertfordshire?

The number of Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people in the population for the week ending 14th November was as follows:

South-West Hertfordshire Council Region

Number of cases per 100,000 people, in the week ending 14th November

Number of cases per 100,000 people, for the previous week (7th November)

Three Rivers

194.0

135.0

Watford

171.9

170.8

St Albans

158.3

119.9

Hertsmere

153.5

100.1

Dacorum

125.4

115.7

It is important to note that these latest figures are lower than other areas of England, where the average rate per 100,000 in the population was 272.2.

Take part in our poll below, and let us know whether you want to see a return of the three-tier alert system.

 

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