Covid outbreak in Bedford's Harpur ward is “under control” meeting told

A coronavirus outbreak in Bedford’s Harpur ward was put down to one “indoor setting” and is under control, a meeting heard.
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In the latest figures the town centre’s Harpur ward was shown to have shot to the top of the local league table of cases with 65.

Thursday’s meeting of the local outbreak engagement board was told that there is “minimal risk” to members of the wider community.

Mayor David Hodgson (Lib Dem) asked the borough’s chief officer for public health, Ian Brown, whether there is anything to worry about.

Mr Brown said: “There is an outbreak in a closed setting that accounts for approximately half of the cases that we are seeing there in Harpur ward this week.

“That situation is under control and we are working with Public Health England to ensure that remains the case.

“There is minimal risk to people in the wider Harpur community.”

Overall he said the situation in the borough is more welcome news of a declining number of infections.

Ward infection figuresWard infection figures
Ward infection figures

The epidemic curve is showing a downward trend and one ward even recorded fewer than three cases, which hasn’t happened for a number of weeks.

This decline is now feeding through into a drop in the number of covid-19 infected people in Bedford Hospital which he said was now below 100 patients.

But that has not caused a drop in the intensive care unit, which is still full.

Infected people tend to stay in intensive care units for a long time before they are able to leave, or sadly they die.

Cases in various age groupsCases in various age groups
Cases in various age groups

And the number of people who have sadly died in the last recorded week, 27 individuals, although slightly lower is still high and Mr Brown expects that kind of number to persist for several weeks yet.

Many more people are dying than would be expected at this time of year, with covid being linked to “most of the excess deaths”.

The committee also reacted to national news that shows that disabled people last year made up 17 per cent of a study population but nearly 60 per cent of coronavirus deaths.

Although the data is not available at a local level Mr Brown said he had no reason to expect that Bedford would be any different. “It’s a real tragedy,” he said.

Number of covid patients at Bedford HospitalNumber of covid patients at Bedford Hospital
Number of covid patients at Bedford Hospital

But council Lib Dem group leader Cllr Christine McHugh (Goldington) hoped that further analysis of the figures would reveal that it “maybe is not quite as shocking as it appears, I certainly hope it isn’t.”

Cllr Lucy Bywater (Green, Castle) said she was struck by how many office workers were out.

“This is not at all like the first lockdown,” she said.

Mr Brown agreed and said this might mean it will be more difficult to get back to normal.

“If we’re going to get on top of this and suppress the virus and try and get things back to normal then we need people to be staying home as much as possible,” he said.