Calderdale Covid case rate coming down, vaccinations up – but we need to take care says health chief

Calderdale’s COVID-19 case rate is coming down while the numbers of people vaccinated are growing, councillors heard.

Tuesday, 16th March 2021, 5:55 pm

Members of Calderdale Council’s Adults, Health and Social Care Scrutiny Board heard last night (March 11) that the borough is now bottom of West Yorkshire’s “reverse” league table – the lower down the table the better, with a positive testing rate of 4.4 per cent.

Assistant Director for Public Health Caron Walker said by week ending March 5, the rate was down to 79.9 per 100,000 people, while for people aged over 60 it was lower at 44.8 per 100,000.

In terms of wards within Calderdale, the highest case rate was 150 people per 100,000 and the lowest 8.3 per 100,000, with only one ward now over 100 people per 100,000.

Covid-19 vaccine rates on the rise

But she cautioned figures were likely to rise as the road map out of lockdown is followed.

“The figures are reducing but as lockdown eases we will see more cases again,” she said.

And Director of Adults, Health and Social Care Services, Iain Baines, said it was not yet known how effective the vaccines were in preventing transmission of the virus, so vaccines were very important, being able to keep test and trace was essential and people keeping to the hands-face-space guidelines was also key.

“It’s important we don’t let go of those very simple messages that can help protect each other and get us out of this situation,” he said.

The highest rate in terms of age group was now 18 to 24-year-olds, which was 157 per 100,000, said Ms Wheeler.

“The data suggests the rate will continue to fall in the coming days and we are testing about the same number in the borough,” she said.

Second doses of vaccinations were starting by next week – vaccine supplies have been low but the borough was expecting double the usual number of deliveries next week.

The number of care home staff vaccinated has now reached 74 per cent, said Ms Wheeler, and taking all health and social care staff into account the figure was now 82 per cent.

“We have invited more than 10,000 carers – formal and informal – to have their vaccination and this week we have vaccinated taxi drivers in the centre of Halifax knowing they are a very ‘at risk’ group,” she said.

This week had seen the 60-64 age cohort start to receive vaccinations and mobile testing stations continue to be used, for example 45 people receiving their first vaccination at Elland mosque, a mixture of those attending there and people from the wider local community.

In response to a question from Coun Sophie Whittaker (Con, Rastrick) testing centre site in the lower Calder Valley is also being sought and the public health team were looking into more Calderdale pharmacies being able to administer vaccines with a decision due to be made over one in Brighouse.

Coun Colin Hutchinson (Lab, Skircoat) said consolidating the council’s work would require stepping up the borough’s test and trace operation ensuring affected people could be isolated and supported.

Mr Baines said currently five care or nursing homes were dealing with an outbreak of COVID.

He said special vaccination sessions were being set up for patients with learning difficulties, creating a safe space for them where ordinary centres might seem threatening.