A small but concerning rise in the number of COVID-19 infections in the Carlisle area is prompting warnings that the public must be on their guard and follow the current guidance fully.
The data tells us in the week ending July 3 there were 18 new cases per 100,000 residents in Carlisle.
This has increased from 8 new cases per 100,000 residents in the previous week ending 26 June.
For comparison the rate of new cases in England, week ending 3 July, was 6 new cases per 100,000 residents.
Currently available data shows that from July 1 to 7 there were 21 positive COVID-19 cases in Carlisle district area, with just an additional 10 positive COVID-19 cases across the rest of Cumbria. Data is updated daily and is being monitored closely.
The Carlisle rate is still very significantly below the rate which prompted local lockdown measures in Leicester.
Claire King, Consultant in Public Health at Cumbria County Council, said: “After a steady overall decline, the rate of infection in the Carlisle area has gone up over the past week. The increase is not large, but it is concerning and we cannot ignore this.
“This is a powerful warning that people must not be complacent and the fight against COVID-19 is not over.
“Social distancing, hand washing, getting tested if you have symptoms, self-isolating if necessary and wearing face coverings or masks when required are absolutely crucial.
“We are monitoring the situation very closely, working with colleagues in the NHS and other local partners.
“At the current time, we are a very long way from re-imposing lock down restrictions given the overall low number of cases. But we have to recognise how easily COVID-19 can spread and that if we see these numbers continuing to increase then restrictions may become necessary.
“We will be analysing the data further over the next few days to learn more and if we need to adjust our action, we will do so.”
Cllr Deborah Earl, Cabinet Member for Public Health and Communities, said: “People in Carlisle have done a great job so far and I know it hasn’t always been easy to stick to the rules.
“We’ve always said that it was when the lock down restrictions ease that we’ll have to be at our most vigilant and these figures underline that. I urge people to do their bit to help keep their family, friends and local communities safe. Follow the rules and we can avoid having to take further action.”
The reasons for the increase in the Carlisle area are still being investigated and additional data will become available next week which will improve understanding of the situation.
As lockdown has eased, it could mean that people have been in more contact with each other which has increased infections.
It is also known that the Cumberland Infirmary is experiencing an outbreak and that this may be related. This is being investigated.
The NHS are taking robust action to control the outbreak in the hospital and it is important that people who require medical care continue to use the hospital as normal.
Anna Stabler, Chief Nurse at North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust said: “We are caring for people with coronavirus in our hospitals and have a small outbreak at the Cumberland Infirmary that is being actively managed.
“This is in line with what we might expect given the recent easing of lockdown and the hospital becoming busier as services are restarted.
“We are taking additional measures to contain the outbreak on site in the interests of safety of our patients and staff however we need the help of the whole community to prevent further new cases in Carlisle.
.We are appealing to the public to adhere social distancing measures to protect people who are most vulnerable including those patients who do require urgent treatments for conditions such as cancers and stroke.
“The public can also help by attending appointments if you are invited and using our services appropriately. If it is not an emergency, call 111, see a pharmacist, or book a GP appointment. If you are seriously injured or sick, go to your nearest A&E or call 999.”
The key actions for the public to take now are:
· Maintain social distancing in line with current advice
· Wash hands regularly
· If you have symptoms, get tested and self-isolate until you know the outcome
· Follow the advice of Contact Tracers if they get in touch
· Wear a face covering or mask where required
Symptoms of coronavirus are:
- a high temperature,
- a new, continuous cough,
- a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste
Local testing is available in Carlisle at mobile testing units at Brunton Park on the following dates:
14-15 July, 21-22 July, 28-29 July. Tests must be booked through national website: https://www.nhs.uk/ask-for-a-coronavirus-test
Tests can also be booked at the Penrith drive-through test centre via this website.