Milton Keynes Public Health official urges caution following 'significant' spike in Indian variant cases in neighbouring town

Cases of the Indian variant have been reported in Milton Keynes

Monday, 17th May 2021, 5:01 pm
Updated Monday, 17th May 2021, 5:02 pm

Milton Keynes residents must remain 'careful' as further lockdown restrictions are lifted according to Public Health officials.

Whilst case numbers remain stable across the borough, neighbouring Bedford has seen a 'significant' spike in positive tests.

Over half the cases in Bedford have been linked to the Indian variant of Covid which the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) fear could be 50% more transmissible, than the Kent variant associated with the second wave in the UK.

Figures from Public Health England showed 120 new Covid cases reported in Bedford over the weekend. By comparison just nine new cases were reported in Milton Keynes over the same time period.

A cluster of positive tests recorded at Radcliffe school in Wolverton contained the Indian variant. Also, 28 cases were recorded in Milton Keynes between Thursday May 14 and Friday May 15, an outlier compared to the recent decline in cases recorded.

Now with Milton Keynes further reopening today (May 17), with pubs, restaurants, cinemas, and other indoor entertainment joints allowed to reopen at full capacity. As well as overnight stays being allowed between households, along with other restrictions being eased as part of phase three of the government's roadmap out of lockdown, the message from Milton Keynes authorities is to remain cautious.

Speaking on Saturday, ahead of more businesses reopening, Milton Keynes’ deputy director of Public Health, Dr Oliver Mytton said: "Locally things are much improved, but we still face challenges.

Milton Keynes residents should remain cautious due to Indian variant, according to local public health officials

"Bedford, just up the road, has seen a significant spike in their cases driven by this new variant that was first detected in India, and we've started to see a handful of these cases in Milton Keynes, that aren't related to travel. So it is really important, we take this next step carefully. Please continue to be vigilant for symptoms, utilise the free testing that is available and please when you are called for vaccination take that opportunity."

Despite the 'significant spike' officials in Bedford aren't targeting a local lockdown currently. Louise Jackson, Bedford Council's lead on health and wellbeing, said: "Local lockdowns don’t work.

"Our local economy can’t sustain it, and people will just move elsewhere, they’ll take the virus to Luton or London. And why wouldn’t they? They’ve had a whole year of this."

In attempts to limit the spread of Covid the council is jabbing certain members of the public ahead of schedule. This included teachers and parents with children at Bedford Academy, Bedford Mayor Dave Hodgson explained the process to The Daily Mail, saying: "It wasn’t easy within the current rules but we managed to get it done in partnership with our local hospital and the local clinical commissioning group who had a limited number of spare Pfizer vaccines going.

"The school is in an area with higher deprivation and increased levels of vaccine hesitancy so we think it was the right thing to do to help reduce transmission."