NOTTIMGHAM PUBLIC HEALTH DIRECTOR EXPECTS CORONAVIRUS CASES TO RISE IN SEPTEMBER
Health boss says Nottingham's coronavirus cases are expected to rise in September - and here's why
"Covid-19 is not going away"
The number of people testing positive is ‘generally expected’ to rise in the coming weeks as students return to universities, children go back to school and more parents go back to work, according to a health boss.
Nottingham’s director of public health Alison Challenger said huge amounts of work had been put in by the universities to make them safer to return to, and robust plans were in place in the event of an outbreak.
Almost no aspect of university life would be the same compared to this time last year, she said, but pointed out that observance of social distancing and mask wearing remained high among the students who have stayed in the city over summer.
She was asked about the situation with Nottingham’s two universities - with thousands of students expected to return imminently - by the deputy leader of the council, Sally Longford in a public meeting today.
Councillor Longford, the Labour councillor for Lenton and Wollaton East - a ward with high levels of student accommodation - asked: “There’s a lot of concern, locally and nationally, about the student return.
“Could you outline what assurances there are in relation to students behaving in accordance with the guidelines? And what plans are in place should there be an outbreak within the student community?”
The director of public health replied: “I do note that concern, and also with September coming, universities starting back up and schools reopening this represents quite a big change nationally as well as for us locally.
“You will have heard the chief medical officer talking about schools at the weekend, which I appreciate is different to universities but what he’s saying is that with people returning to schools it means more families returning to work and it’s a similar situation with the universities.
“They will have students back, people will go back into their teaching roles, back into employment by those universities, and it’s not just universities and schools but I think it’s generally expected we will start to see an increase in the number of positive cases.
“Because Covid is not going away, we haven’t got the science and the vaccine to actually eliminate Covid at this stage.
“So I think it’s very much about how we prepare for (it) and how we manage as best as we can to keep the positive cases low and reduce the spread of the virus.
“We have developed an extremely detailed incident management plan should we see any areas of concern within the university population.
“That would be for staff and for students, and it’s considering all aspects of student and university life.
“Universities won’t operate as they did this time last year. Things will be really different in terms of how the sessions are taught, how students are in contact with one another and the whole of their daily life both on and off campus.
“There have been extensive plans put in place, and the universities have worked extensively.
“I think we will see very different universities when they return in September, the whole way of working and living and interacting with communities is going to be managed.
“From observation at this stage I do see that students are very much compliant with the social distancing and with the mask wearing and the hope is that that continues through, and as members of the community they are playing their part as is everybody in trying to minimise transition of the virus."
Speaking about the wider picture within Nottingham, she said: “So far Nottingham hasn’t been as severely affected as some places have, but that doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen,. And the efforts of everybody need to continue if we are to try to manage that as effectively as possible.
“Inevitably I would expect more cases to come forward as we move into winter, but it’s trying to make sure that the community transmission is kept as low as possible, so we can delay that happening as long as we can."
[Kit Sanderman, Local Democracy Reporter, Nottingham Post, Tuesday 25 August 2020]