Neighbouring town to Milton Keynes placed onto 'area of concern' list over Covid-19 infection rates

MK's neighbouring town of Northampton has dropped down to the lowest level of Public Health England's (PHE) coronavirus watchlist.
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PHE's latest weekly surveillance report released late on Friday (September 11) showed Northampton, alongside neighbours Corby, at the lowest level on the list of potential coronavirus hotspots.

Kettering, which was also identified as an area of concern last week, is no longer listed.

But extra guidance issued to the three towns asking residents to limit contact with other households, avoid car sharing and public transport, and work from home where possible still stands.

Northampton has been downgraded on Public Health England's coronavirus watchlistNorthampton has been downgraded on Public Health England's coronavirus watchlist
Northampton has been downgraded on Public Health England's coronavirus watchlist

And local officials warned the possibility of a local lockdown has not gone away after signs of the number of new cases rising again in the Borough.

Friday's government data revealed 13 new positive tests in Northampton in the latest 24 hour period, raising the weekly total to 88 — nearly double the previous week's tally.

Northamptonshire's Public Health Director Lucy Wightman told Friday's weekly County Council media briefing: "We are continuing to work with soft intelligence we get through the police and environmental health officers and by looking at reports from PHE to ascertain where and why these cases are increasing.

"Part of the challenge is that we would expect to see some increase in cases as more people return to work and school etc. We know the environments people work and go to school in do cause some issues from a point of view of onward transmission of cases to be quite likely.

"If we do see this to be continuing trend then we would need to look at taking measures locally in conjunction with PHE, the bio security centre and Chief Medical Officer."

PHE first identified Northampton as a potential coronavirus hotspot and declared the Borough an "area of concern" on July 24 after an increase in positive tests began ringing alarm bells.

These were later revealed to be the first of more than 300 cases among workers at the Greencore sandwich-making factory which was made public on August 13.

Northampton was elevated to the highest level on the watchlist — an area of intervention — on August 21 as Health Secretary Matt Hancock stepped in to order the closed.

That rating was changed to an area of enhanced support last week and is now back to the lowest end of the PHE bracket.