Birthday party blamed for spike in Covid-19 cases in the Arlesey, Stotfold and Shefford area

A birthday party caused a spike in Covid-19 cases in part of Central Bedfordshire, leading to extensive test and trace activity in the area.

Wednesday, 16th September 2020, 10:34 am
Updated Wednesday, 16th September 2020, 10:38 am

Central Bedfordshire Council and Public Health England worked to investigate the source of the outbreak in Arlesey, Shefford and Stotfold last month.

Data showed an increase from 12 cases in the week beginning August 2, to 23 cases the following week, Conservative Sandy councillor Tracey Stock told a social care, health and housing overview and scrutiny committee meeting.

“The majority of cases were among young adults with a particular geographical area of Arlesey, Stotfold and Shefford,” she explained.

Mobile testing for Covid-19

“The outbreak was linked to a birthday party. There was a lot of test and trace involved in that.

“This was followed up and attendees identified, with monitoring ongoing in a number of cases.

“Mobile testing capacity was brought into the area and a communications campaign targeted the young people.

“That area has seen a real drop following the birthday party. Hopefully that was a one-off incident.

“The data for the week beginning August 24 shows just three cases in those wards,” said councillor Stock, who is the executive member for health and wellbeing and communities.

“The figures have started to come down with 22 a fortnight ago, and it was 18 for August 31 to September 3.”

Conservative council leader James Jamieson had stressed the importance of controlling the August outbreak in the three towns and keeping people safe.

He warned that some people “don’t show symptoms” and urged residents “not to take risks and stick to measures which have proved effective in controlling the spread”.

Independent Linslade councillor Victoria Harvey asked at last week's committee meeting if there was any chance of enforcing social distancing.

“That’s the real question,” she said. “What’s the enforcement? And are there people going round and checking?

“I know some pubs in Leighton Buzzard have been exceptionally good and helpful, while making sure there’s test and trace.

“It’s very important there’s clear messaging. Some hairdressers have gone to enormous lengths to make sure their customers are safe, while others have scarcely done anything.”

Councillors were also updated about care home access by Conservative Dunstable Central councillor Carole Hegley, who’s the executive member for adults, social care and housing operations.

“While I want to encourage as much contact into care homes as possible, we’re still having to observe government guidance,” she explained.

“And we take a steer from our public health director, Muriel Scott, who will give us information about access to those homes.

“The guidance from her is still to be extremely cautious, at the moment, and internal visits into care homes aren’t permitted.”

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