Requests to move Cherwell to “high” COVID-19 alert level refused by government


Whilst pleas to up the alert level were rejected here, Oxford City is now at the “high” alert level

Despite serious concerns about rising COVID-19 cases expressed by local Councillors, central government has REJECTED a call to increase the local alert level.

Discussions took place with government officials about whether all areas of Oxfordshire should move to the high alert level, given concerns over the spread of the virus to wider and potentially more vulnerable age groups.

However, the decision was made by government to move just Oxford to high alert level at this stage. This was despite requests for the whole of the county to move to tier 2, which had the full backing of the leaders of all six local authorities and the chief executives of Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, and the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (OxLEP).

Councillor Ian Hudspeth, Leader of Oxfordshire County Council, said: “The continued rise in numbers across the county has once more been discussed with central government and Public Health England and it has been agreed that this is the appropriate moment for Oxford move to tier 2.

“However, we remain seriously concerned about the rise in the number of cases across the county, and not just Oxford. We are deeply disappointed that despite clear evidence showing the virus is now spreading to older and more vulnerable communities across the county, our request that Oxfordshire as a whole should move to tier 2 was not approved.

“My five fellow local authority leaders and I firmly believe this is a necessary step to stem the spread of the virus, protect our communities and the Oxfordshire economy. Our position has the full backing of the chief executives of our NHS partners and the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership, and we will continue to push for a move for the rest of the county to happen as soon as possible based on the epidemiological evidence.”

Councillor Barry Wood, Leader of Cherwell District Council, said: “I am deeply concerned by the sharp rise in cases of COVID-19 in Cherwell. The data shows that coronavirus is now spreading in all age ranges through our district. Make no mistake, the virus is a clear and present threat to the health of our friends, colleagues, families and communities.

Dr Nick Broughton, Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust CEO, said: “Our community services and hospitals expect to see more people with any rise in infection rates, particularly in the event of increased spread across generations. We also need to look after people’s emotional and cognitive wellbeing and our mental health services will continue to provide safe support, including helplines and digital consultations, to meet people’s needs. We will continue to work very closely with all our colleagues in health and social care services across the county to do all we can to support the communities we serve.”

Oxford city will be moved into the government’s ‘high’ or tier 2 alert level after a further rise in cases of COVID-19 – meaning that the city’s residents will need to abide by new rules from Saturday 31 October.

The central government decision follows intensive discussions between central government, local councils, MPs and others in recent days.

Published: by Banbury FM Newsteam

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