Local leaders have welcomed the announcement that Peterborough will become an Enhanced Response Area – to protect vulnerable people, the NHS and other vital services as the winter months approach, as they push for additional resource to speed up vaccination and booster jabs.
Rising rates in older people coupled with building pressures on local health and education services led to those responsible for public health in the city to ask Government to grant the whole area ‘enhanced response area’ status for at least five weeks from November 1 - to help bring down infection rates which are currently higher in most areas than seen in January’s previous peak.
An application by Jyoti Atri the area’s joint Director of Public Health – supported by lead politicians – for Enhanced Response Area status was agreed by Government on Saturday (October 30). Jyoti Atri, Director of Public Health for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough said: “A rising rate of infections particularly in our older population meant I had to make this application now.
“This increase starting to build in our 60+ age groups, coupled with low vaccination rates in some parts of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough – means pressure is building on our local health services. This is exacerbated by increased levels of COVID infections in the general population, and staff being unable to work because they are infected or isolating. If unchecked, this will also impact on health care for other non Covid needs.
“If we all do more now - together we can reduce pressure before the worst effects of winter really begin.”
The ERA status allows the council to apply for additional support to:
- Accelerate and target 12-15 vaccination roll out to key areas and schools where infections are highest
- Accelerate booster vaccinations for eligible groups who have had their second vaccination more than six months ago
- Increase vaccination rates in areas with the lowest uptake
In addition, as part of ERA status the area will enter into further discussions with the Department of Education about additional measures it can use in schools, but in the meantime it will continue to:
- Encourage secondary school teachers or pupils who are household contacts of positive cases to take daily LFT tests
- Continue with advice given to schools before the half term that face coverings should be worn in secondary school communal areas, and that meetings happen virtually where possible
- Encourage anyone who is a household contact of a positive case to take daily rapid tests, until a negative PCR test is received
For the general population a government funded additional communications push will also begin from next week.
This will recommend wearing face coverings in crowded and enclosed areas where people come into contact with anyone they do not usually meet.
It will also remind people to get their vaccinations, test regularly and particularly before attending events, meet with others outside their households in well ventilated spaces and wash hands regularly and well
Cllr Irene Walsh, Peterborough City Council’s Cabinet Member for Adults and Health said: “I am delighted and grateful that the Secretary of State has listened to our Director of Public Health’s request to take proportionate and measured steps now to reduce pressure on our local health and education services,”
“Peterborough increasingly had higher infection rates than the East of England average, and than England in general, because of issues that we are all aware of including the type of major employment in the area and our demography.
“The last thing we want to do is move to even tighter restrictions as winter approaches – so by acting now, using our common sense and following the sensible measures we all know work we can make a difference.
“This will help us keep our hospitals working, our children in schools and our economy functioning and I would urge people to look at these measures and take them very seriously.”