Oldham takes measures to avoid full coronavirus lockdown

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People in Oldham have been told to stop visiting friends and family to avoid a full local lockdown after the number of coronavirus cases more than quadrupled in a week.

Health officials in the Greater Manchester town imposed new restrictions on Tuesday after the confirmed number of Covid-19 cases rose from 26 to 119 in the week to 25 July.

About Oldham
Oldham is a large town in Greater Manchester, England, amid the Pennines and between the rivers Irk and Medlock, 5.3 miles (8.5 km) southeast of Rochdale and 6.9 miles (11.1 km) northeast of Manchester. It is the administrative centre of the Metropolitan Borough of Oldham, which had a population of 230,800 in 2015.
Historically in Lancashire, and with little early history to speak of, Oldham rose to prominence in the 19th century as an international centre of textile manufacture. It was a boomtown of the Industrial Revolution, and among the first ever industrialised towns, rapidly becoming “one of the most important centres of cotton and textile industries in England”. At its zenith, it was the most productive cotton spinning mill town in the world, producing more cotton than France and Germany combined. Oldham’s textile industry fell into decline in the mid-20th century; the town’s last mill closed in 1998.
The demise of textile processing in Oldham depressed and heavily affected the local economy. Today Oldham is a predominantly residential town, and the improvement of the town centre is the focus of a project for transforming Oldham into a centre for further education and the performing arts. It is, however, still distinguished architecturally by the surviving cotton mills and other buildings associated with that industry. As of 2001, the town had a population of 103,544 and an area of around 26 square miles (67 km2).

Oldham takes measures to avoid full coronavirus lockdown

About measures
Measure may refer to:

Measurement, the assignment of a number to a characteristic of an object or event

Oldham council urged residents not to have social visitors beyond those in their support bubble and said clinically vulnerable people would now have to shield for a further two weeks, until 14 August. Care homes in the town will no longer relax visiting restrictions.

Officials said a significant proportion of recent cases in the town involved multiple individuals testing positive within a single household, showing that household spread was a real issue – especially in households with large families. Two-thirds of the new cases were in the town’s Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities, the council said.

Oldham takes measures to avoid full coronavirus lockdown

Councillor Arooj Shah, deputy leader of Oldham council, said the new measures would remain in place for the next two weeks: “We know that people across Oldham desperately want to see their friends and family, and get back to normal. But these restrictions are essential if we are to stop the spread of coronavirus and prevent a strict local lockdown being put in place, as we have seen elsewhere in the country.”

Oldham is the latest local authority to introduce tougher restrictions in an attempt to curb a second rise in coronavirus cases, after Blackburn with Darwen, Rochdale and Wakefield imposed similar measures earlier this month.

The former industrial towns, which are within about an hour’s drive of each other, all have a high concentration of cramped terraced housing, multi-generational households and high levels of deprivation in some areas – all of which have been cited as factors increasing the risk of Covid-19 outbreaks.

Oldham now has the third highest infection rate in England – at 50.5 cases per 100,000 people – behind Blackburn with Darwen (77.2) and Leicester (56), according to the latest NHS data.

Oldham council said its infection rate had jumped from 10.2 cases per 100,000 in the second week of July to more than 50 cases per 100,000 in the following week, owing to the 119 new confirmed cases.

Katrina Stephens, director of public health for Oldham council, said the new cases involved younger people, aged 20 to 40, and many were in areas of high deprivation. She added they were likely to be among those in “at-risk occupations,” such as warehouse workers, taxi drivers, manufacturing jobs and health and social care workers.

Stephens said the data provided by the government’s test-and-trace system, which has been criticised by health officials in other areas, had “improved drastically” in recent weeks but there were still two “key gaps” that need to be addressed.

She said local authorities were not getting information about who was testing negative, which is important as it allows officials to understand how many people were being tested and what proportion of those were testing positive.

Additionally, Stephens said she was being given incomplete data about the occupation and recent location history of people who had tested positive, which is important to help hunt down the virus.

The restrictions on care home visits follows the first confirmed Covid-19 cases in those settings for a number of weeks.

Officials said that while the increase was concerning, the number of new cases was not yet at the level that saw Leicester become the UK’s first city to be placed under a full local lockdown on 30 June when it had 135 cases per 100,000 people.

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