Blog: Could Oadby and Wigston face a Covid19 clampdown?

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Our Political Reporter Gareth Owen looks at why in the space of four days, Oadby and Wigston has gone from falling off the national Covid19 watchlist to having the second-highest rate in the country with more than three times the national average.

It wasn't so very long ago that Covid numbers in the Leicestershire borough of Oadby and Wigston were described as "falling like a stone".

Just last Friday the two commuter-belt towns were taken off the national Covid "watch list".  But in the space of four days, the borough now has the second highest rate in the entire country.

The weekend has seen a very big spike in cases locally. It prompted the county's Director of Public Health to warn that

"further restrictions" might be around the corner; something which would come as a huge blow to communities which are just starting to emerge from the local summer lockdown they endured alongside their neighbours in the city of Leicester.

The figures are stark: recent cases are running at 115 per 100,000 residents.  The national average is just 33 per 100,000.

The local council has taken to delivering leaflets, urging people to try and get tested if they have symptoms.  There is talk of another mobile testing unit coming to the area.

A glance at Public Health England's Covid dashboard suggests that while Wigston has a handful of cases it's Oadby where the biggest outbreaks are to be found.  

Oadby is a quiet town with just over 20,000 residents, largely working families, many of whom make the daily commute into Leicester for work. It's made up mostly of leafy residential streets with neat detached and semi-detached homes.  Property prices are significantly higher than in the city. This is not an overcrowded or deprived neighbourhood, by any stretch of the description.  

If there was any doubt that this virus can thrive well beyond the bustling city centres of Leicester and Birmingham, this will surely dispel it.

Director of Public Health, Mike Sandys said "this is a big leap in our neck of the woods and a stark reminder that the pandemic is not over.  If cases don’t fall, and quickly, we’ll have to consider introducing local restrictions".

The message to locals is clear.  Strict social distancing has to be the order of the day, or a clampdown will follow.

And that warning extends over the council borders into Blaby too, where cases are also starting to creep up.  The village of Whetstone in particular has seen a big increase in numbers.

This will likely be the pattern throughout the winter of 2020.  Every morning, public health experts will go through local data with a fine tooth comb, try to identify hotspots and announce new restrictions.  In some cities, towns and villages there will be relief, while in others freedoms will be removed.  The new normal.

  • We asked Oadby residents about the rise in cases.

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