Manchester City Council have detailed a list of noteworthy points in relation to the prevention of a second outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Manchester.
Health officials from Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) have recently released a list of ‘seven things you need to know’ about Manchester’s COVID-19 outbreak prevention plans going forward.
This follows on from the release of the initial prevention action plan published earlier this month.
In a question and answer-style statement via council website last week, David Regan – Manchester’s Director of Public Health – explains the role of COVID testing data and postcode analysis, early warning systems, and the approach to preventing any future outbreaks of the virus.
He addressed a number of frequently-raised questions/points by members of the public and offered some clarity for those who may be feeling somewhat in the dark.
What is Manchester’s current position on COVID-19 cases and what if that number starts to rise?
Mr Regan stated that in the Manchester city region, “we are still seeing a small number of positive cases” arising each day, but “the number remains relatively stable at the moment”.
He confirmed that Manchester is currently eighth lowest of the 10 Greater Manchester boroughs – based on the total number of positive cases for population size – but this does not however mean that “we can be complacent because we are still dealing with a pandemic where the situation can change quickly if people don’t follow advice”.
He also stated that the “tried and tested” method of weekly postcode data would be looked at “to assess where the numbers relate to and what it means” should the number of confirmed cases rise, which would allow health professionals the ability to see from that local detail if the numbers related to a business, school or care home – or if they are separate cases on a particular street.
If transmissions rates change significantly in the future, Mr Regan confirmed that Manchester City Council “would work with the rest of Greater Manchester and central government before taking any major decisions”.
Is the NHS Test and Trace service helping in Manchester?
Mr Regan stated that NHS Test and Trace is “for the greater good to protect us all” and is “without a doubt how we will beat the disease and keep it under control”.
He also reiterated that the importance of getting tested if you display symptoms cannot be underestimated.
He clarified that NHS Test and Trace “will not pass individual personal details between contacts. It will operate on a trust basis and the Test and Trace team will help each individual to understand what it means to them and whether or not they need to self-isolate”.
He also addressed the measures currently being taken in public places.
“We are also asking places like libraries, pubs and restaurants to record people’s details – which would then be destroyed after 21 days – to help with this process” he said.
“So, if I was in a restaurant where it found that someone then tested positive, the restaurant would be able to help the tracing service by saying who could have been in close contact. That doesn’t mean that everyone who was there that night would have to self-isolate – but it does mean that there would be a proportionate, safety-first approach.”
How likely is a second wave and will flu season make dealing with the pandemic harder?
With regards to the likelihood of a second wave, Mr Regan indicated that authorities would need to look back at other pandemics with second waves, like the Spanish Influenza and Swine Flu, in order to answer that.
He said: “it’s the size of the wave – or waves – that’s important” and that “we have to keep them as small as possible to protect lives and also to make sure our health and social care services don’t become overwhelmed.”
“If we all follow the rules, we can keep our economy and schools open while functioning effectively – and avoiding another 12-week lockdown situation.”
Addressing the concerns surrounding the management of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in relation to the pending flu season, Mr Regan added that “autumn and winter are when we always see a rise in illness like flu and norovirus and we have to be prepared for that too”
He continued: “COVID-19 is a new virus and it’s going to be difficult to predict, however we do absolutely know that testing and tracing works very effectively.”
“And that is how we will contain the disease.”
Closing out his statement by issuing a message to the people of Manchetser, Mr Regan went on to thank “everyone who lives and works in our great city for all you have done to date to help during the pandemic”.
He also reiterated the need to “keep following the guidance” so that we can “all tackle this together.”
For more information, visit the Manchester City Council website here.