Reports of St Albans COVID-19 spike are refuted by county council

PUBLISHED: 13:12 14 July 2020 | UPDATED: 13:53 14 July 2020

At the weekend media other than the Herts Advertiser reported that St Albans had recorded one of the highest increases in new cases of coronavirus in the country. Picture: Polina Tankilevitch/Pexels

At the weekend media other than the Herts Advertiser reported that St Albans had recorded one of the highest increases in new cases of coronavirus in the country. Picture: Polina Tankilevitch/Pexels

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A leading county councillor has hit out at claims that St Albans is amongst the ‘worst’ for COVID-19 in the country.

At the weekend local media - but not the Herts Advertiser - reported that the district had recorded one of the highest increases in new cases of the virus in the country.

But executive member for public health and prevention Cllr Tim Hutchings has hit back – suggesting he does not recognise the figures.

Speaking at a meeting of the county council’s cabinet on Monday Cllr Hutchings did acknowledge the number of cases had been elevated in St Albans due to a ‘problem’ at a particular care home.

But he said there was no evidence to suggest a risk of wider outbreak in St Albans or elsewhere in the county.

“Across the county the numbers we are looking at are fairly low and spread out – suggesting we don’t have any particular areas of focus,” he said.

“Except that we had one problem last week in a care home in St Albans, but that was dealt with very quickly, it was isolated and we are on top of it.”

Media reports by the St Albans Review – said to be based on data from Public Health England – had reported that the number of cases (per 100,000 population) had increased from 10.2 to 19, in the week to July 7.

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And that, it was widely reported, ranked the district as having one of the highest increases in the rate of new infections in the country.

“The newspaper figures for St Albans are not ones that we recognise,” said Cllr Hutchings.

“In fact they were suggesting that the problems in St Albans put it in the top 10 of the worst in the country – the reality is we are not even in the top 100.

“The figures in St Albans were a little elevated for a few days last week, with the majority of infections contained in one care home.

“We have been monitoring the situation on a daily basis and put in actions which have resulted in figures coming down again.

“There is no evidence to suggest a risk of wider outbreak in St Albans or for that matter anywhere else in the county. However we recognise the need to remain vigilant.”

Cllr Hutchings made the comments as cabinet members considered the county council’s ongoing response to Covid-19.

He stressed to the meeting that the virus was ‘still around’ and that residents still needed to take precautions.

He said the the county council had completed the outbreak plan designed to reduce outbreaks and to respond to any that do arise and that he was “confident” they would deal with challenges as and when they arose.

Meanwhile data reported to the cabinet suggested that between April and June the percentage of care homes reporting residents showing or diagnosed with COVID-19 symptoms falling from 79 per cent to 24.


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