I am writing to you today to update you on the latest meeting of the Local Outbreak Engagement Board yesterday, which meets on a regular basis to understand at the work our public health team are doing to tackle and limit the spread of Coronavirus in Cornwall.
Yesterday one of the items we looked at was the work surrounding the recent outbreak of COVID-19 at the Pilgrim’s Pride food factory in Pool.
The public health team received a single alert from the NHS Test and Trace service regarding a positive case in the area. When interviewed, the infected person revealed they worked at the factory, and our public health team immediately instigated a proactive testing programme for the staff at the unit regardless of whether they were showing symptoms or not.
Almost 500 staff were tested, with more than 170 people testing positive for the infection. The vast majority of those positive were asymptomatic, and so, without testing, would have continued to spread the virus while unaware they were infectious.
It shows how proactive testing is helping us to limit the spread of the Covid in our communities, and I would like to thank all those involved in the response to this outbreak.
The numbers involved in this single incident has pushed Cornwall’s infection rate upwards, with a sharp rise in the number of cases reported in the past fortnight. You can see the latest figures here www.cornwall.gov.uk/coviddata.
I wanted to share this update because, as members, and leaders in our communities, it is vital we all continue to follow, and to remind others, of the public health guidance currently in effect, which includes good hand hygiene, wearing of face masks in enclosed public spaces, keeping two metres apart, and not gathering in groups of more than six people to help us stop the spread of the virus.
It is also vital that you get self-isolate and get tested if you develop Covid symptoms, including a new continuous cough, a high temperature, or a loss of taste or smell.
This message is so important as we head into winter, with the extra pressures that the colder weather will inevitably bring onto our health services. By following the public health guidance on social distancing and washing your hands we can all help to reduce the spread of all viruses, including both flu and coronavirus.
It is inevitable that as members and leaders in your communities you will receive questions from residents and the media about cases in your area. Please understand that our public health team will not disclose individual confirmed cases for reasons of confidentiality in response to enquiries from our local communities or the media – and nor should we.
If you are asked questions about specific cases, it is really helpful to emphasise that the public health guidance remains the same regardless of the number of cases in a local area; wash your hands regularly, keep to social distancing guidelines, and wear a face covering when in enclosed public spaces. Emphasising that everyone can play their part by following these basic simple rules will make a difference.
I would also like to update you on the work we are doing to support businesses. Our enforcement and public protection teams have responded to the fast-changing economic landscape by helping Cornwall’s business owners to make sense of new Covid regulatory requirements – including the new track and trace app and early closing for pubs, bars and restaurants.
Yesterday, officers from Environmental Health and Food Safety gave an online ‘Covid 19 Trading Safely’ presentation to an audience of over 50 Members of Cornwall Council, Town/Parish Councils and representatives of Business Improvement Districts (BIDs).
Later a Business Webinar, with business owners invited to attend for free, was well received too. There was lots of interest in a series of weekly catch-ups on Covid security for Members and businesses, set to begin on 8 October.
The user-friendly guide ‘Bounce Back to Business’ has also been fully updated to include the latest Covid measures and restrictions, and can be downloaded at no cost here: Bounce Back to Business.
Finally, a programme of town centre Walkabouts has just ended. Environmental Health, Food Safety, Licensing, Anti-Social Behaviour and Business Standards officers talked informally to business owners, staff and members of the public, emphasising that Cornwall Council is here not only to maintain safety standards and enforce them, but to stand up for the Cornish economy by amplifying the voices of concerned traders and their employees.
Please continue to take care,
Hembrenkyas an Konsel
Konseler Kernow rag Pastel-vro An Ros