No, Milton Keynes is not 'on the verge of Covid lockdown' like Leicester - there have been no hospital deaths for over a month

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National media reports that MK is on the verge of a second wave Covid-19 lockdown have been dismissed as "completely false".

On Tuesday, the Daily Express and Mail both printed a list of towns facing action because their infection rate, similar to Leicester, was too high.

Milton Keynes, despite having experienced a low infection rate for weeks, was on this list as one of 36 'at risk' areas in the UK.

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The story was repeated on Sky News today, with MK once again firmly on the list.

Milton KeynesMilton Keynes
Milton Keynes

Milton Keynes North MP Ben Everitt has now confirmed the claims about MK are completely false.

He said: “I raised this directly with the Secretary of State and the Public Health Minister and can reassure the people of MK that this story is completely false. There is no data to suggest that MK is currently at risk of a local lockdown. Cases remain low."

MK council leader Pete Marland has slammed the national news reports as "misleading".

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He is reassuring people that the reports are based on a poor analysis of data. The story only includes one strand of publicly available testing results, where the number of positive tests rose from one to two in a week. While these are very low numbers, statistically it means a 100 per cent rise in cases - and it is this number that seems to have led to the misleading reports.

MK graphMK graph
MK graph

Government data shows MK has seen 518 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus since the start of the pandemic and 103 Covid-linked deaths at MK Hospital.

In comparison, Leicester has seen well over 1,000 cases and almost 400 deaths.

That is reflected in this graph which shows case numbers in Milton Keynes have effectively flatlined since May.

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Strangely, neighbouring Bedford was not on the lockdown list. Yet Bedford, which has a population of around 160,000 compared to MK's 230,000, has seen well over 800 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and more than 200 deaths.

There have been no coronavirus-related hospital deaths in MK for over a monthThere have been no coronavirus-related hospital deaths in MK for over a month
There have been no coronavirus-related hospital deaths in MK for over a month

In Milton Keynes, the infection rate has been steadily decreasing for several weeks and there has been no Covid-linked death at the city hospital for a month now.

But last week saw a giant hiccup when 20 new cases were confirmed - all linked to the Acorn children's nursery at Westcroft.

Local public health director Muriel Scott said the situation was under control - but warned people in MK not to get complacent.

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She said: “This is a vitally important time to remain vigilant about the spread of Covid-19. As lockdown lifts we’ve all got to do our part, which means remaining distant, regular hand washing, staying at home and seeking a test if you have symptoms of the virus, and following all the latest government guidance.

MK is not on the 'at risk' list,  says the local MPMK is not on the 'at risk' list,  says the local MP
MK is not on the 'at risk' list, says the local MP

"We’ve seen an outbreak in Milton Keynes in a setting where all sensible precautions were being followed. Covid-19 will take every opportunity it can to spread, it won’t be taking a break so please stay alert and stay safe.”

Pete Marland has also re-iterated that despite low infection numbers in the city, people should continue to follow infection control and social distancing guidelines as spikes in the Covid-19 virus can flare up quickly due to the highly infectious nature of the virus.

He said: “I want to reassure people that we are not in any danger of a local lockdown at present. The reports of such a threat are based on a flawed analysis of data and are misleading.”

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“Our Covid-19 infection rate in the city remains low, but the virus is still circulating in our population and our strong instructions are to keep following infection control and social distancing guidelines. Spikes can occur quickly, and our low numbers should not be a green light to complacency.”

“Reports with no basis like this are worrying, but they are also dangerous. It may be that at some point we do have a local second wave, and we need to keep people on board with up to date and correct information, something we are pressing the government to provide in a way we can have full confidence in.”

MP Mr Everitt said: "Local lockdowns, of course, will be applied where appropriate as part of our continuing plans to control the virus. By following the advice, staying alert and controlling the virus, people in MK have been playing their part in keeping the number of new cases here low. It’s vital we continue to follow the rules as we move to the next phase in our battle against Covid-19."

He added: “We’ve protected the NHS from being overwhelmed and in so doing we have saved lives. We now need to protect livelihoods, too – supporting jobs and local businesses and making sure that MK bounces back.”

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