With Sedgemoor now ranking second in the country in terms of rates of Covid cases, the Mayor of Bridgwater, Cllr Leigh Redman, has gone on BBC Radio urging people to ‘think of others and follow the guidance’. Leigh continued “When i saw the numbers i started to ask the question myself. The numbers in Bridgwater seem amazingly high . Two thirds of the cases are young people between the age of 15 and 34 and Bridgwater has a relatively young population compared to the rest of the county. Things are opening up and there’s a higher level of social contact. I want to stress we’re all in this together so please follow the guidance. It would be horrible if due to a little slip , members of your family suffer, so please take care and follow the guidance. No one is breaking the law any more, the world is opening up and Bridgwater is going back to the vibrant place it was before, but we need to follow the guidance and consider everyone else. Get tested regularly, wear a mask indoors and all play our part. Everyone was expecting the cases to rise when we relaxed the rules so it’s not such a surprise. Previously we were very low but now we’re playing catch up. This delta virus is deadly and very easily spread, so follow the guidance , stay safe and we’ll get through this.”
Cllr Redman also released a statement from Somerset Health which explained the situation.
Sedgemoor Covid update – 18 August 2021
There is considerable attention on Sedgemoor at the moment, as on Tuesday it was reported as having the second highest covid-19 rate in the country. Within Sedgemoor, the Bridgwater area is notably higher than surrounding areas. In contrast the rest of the county remains below the southwest average.
Who is being infected?
About two thirds of the cases are in young people (15-34). Most of the people in these groups will have had one vaccination, but under 18s and some older people will be unvaccinated. This means they are more at risk of both contracting and passing on the virus than older, double vaccinated people.
Bridgwater has a relatively young population compared to the rest of the county, so likely to have higher levels of social contact within a population less protected by vaccination than other parts of the county.
Why has the rate doubled in the last week?
Indications from contact tracing and other intelligence are that transmission is occurring through social contact in indoor locations such as some entertainment and hospitality premises and other enclosed spaces such as cars, for example when car sharing. The opening up of more commercial entertainment premises is likely to be a factor. County & District Council Officers are engaging with relevant businesses to check on the adequacy of covid controls and to identify whether any additional measures are required.
Are large workplaces a problem?
No, because there are high numbers of cases in the community these are reflected in larger employers workforces, but there are few outbreaks within workplaces. Again transmission appears to be predominantly through social activity. The public health and Sedgemoor environmental health staff are working with businesses to assist in managing their situations. Most businesses are well-versed in managing cases and contacts effectively by now.
Is it Hinkley?
No. The Hinkley Point C construction site has excellent controls in place and extensive workforce testing. Cases have increased in recent weeks, but again this appears to reflect social transmission in the main, with very little evidence of transmission on site. Public Health England and the county and district councils routinely and regularly liaise with HPC to review covid control on site.
What about care homes?
There are no significant care home outbreaks in Sedgemoor.
Are tourists bringing covid to Somerset?
We know that significant numbers of people that have holidayed on the Somerset coast in recent weeks have subsequently tested positive for Covid-19, most of whom are not of course Somerset residents. It is likely that some tourists do arrive incubating Covid, and that other tourists are contracting covid while here on holiday. It is a reminder that covid isn’t on holiday, and that we all need to remain cautious to minimise the risk of being infected, especially in crowded and indoor locations.
Was the Somerock music festival last weekend a factor?
Covid wardens who attended the festival reported good controls in place. Some transmission would be expected at this type of event without social distancing, as now permitted. However, any cases arising from this event will not yet be showing in the data.
What additional measures are being taken?
We are sending posters into Sedgemoor to be put into hotspots and also paying for boosts to social media messages in target postcodes, so both residents and visitors get messages about Covid19, as well as engaging in media interviews.
What steps can people in Sedgemoor take?
Minimise social contacts indoors, keep practising social distancing and wear face coverings in crowded and indoor locations when appropriate.
Open windows and doors for ventilation to flush out covid particles.
If you are planning to attend a night club or other crowded location, take a LFD test first and only attend if it is negative.
If you are car sharing, open windows and wash or sanitise your hands on arrival at your destination.
If you have tested positive you must isolate for 10 days. If you havesymptoms that might be covid, take a test. Be cautious, especially around people who may be more vulnerable.
Remember, vaccination reduces risk of serious illness, but it doesn’t stop transmission.