By KLTV Newsdesk
Kirklees Council has announced wide-ranging action to tackle local spikes in COVID-19 infections.
New data released last week by the government showed a small increase in cases in Kirklees. The council says they are now taking immediate action to reduce rates to save lives and avoid a local lockdown.
The council’s action includes mobilising its staff to work with people, families and business owners in areas with the highest rates about how they can stay safe as lockdown eases.
A major public information campaign will also aim to give residents in Kirklees the latest information on how they can keep themselves and their loved ones safe as lockdown continues to ease.
The council will also increase testing in affected areas to give local people and public health officials a better understanding of how the virus is affecting communities in North Kirklees.
Whilst infection rates in the area remain well below those seen in Leicester, Kirklees is still the second-most at risk council in the country of a new outbreak according to a leaked government document.
Councillors and officials say they are determined to keep numbers low and protect lives and vital health and care services.
An outreach operation in communities most affected by Covid-19 is already underway with council staff dispensing public health advice to residents and working with families and communities on how they can stay safe.
Initially operating in Ravensthorpe, Saville Town and Batley West, and focused on people in the 20-40 years old age group, council staff will talk to voluntary and community organisations about how they can work together to stay safe.
They also aim to engage with people and families who might be at particular risk or who need support to isolate.
The council’s new public health campaign will also see all residents receive the latest information and advice on stopping the spread of the virus in a letter that will start to drop through letterboxes later this week.
Last week, organisations across the public, private and voluntary sector also pledged to work together to share advice and guidance to help stop the spread of Covid-19 especially as rules around lockdown begin to ease.
An additional mobile testing unit (MTU) is available in Batley at Wards Hill car park.
The existing MTU in Dewsbury has moved to Cliffe Street car park. The units will be available for anyone who thinks they have symptoms to get a test.
Strategic Director of Public Health for Kirklees, Rachel Spencer-Henshall said: “We’ve been waiting for data that can help us target action for months. Now that we know more, we have acted quickly to get support into communities where we can have the biggest impact and bring infection rates down.
Ms Spencer-Henshall added that while the number of positive cases is still relatively small, they recognise that there is no room for complacency.
She said: “The council and its partners have thousands of interactions with people and communities every day. We will make the most of those conversations, and create more so that everyone understands their role in stopping the spread of Covid-19.
Ms Spencer-Henshall also made note of how data can only tell one side of the story.
Recent local outbreaks in areas such as Cleckheaton and Batley may have had an adverse effect on the overall rate of infection.
She added: “Data is hugely helpful but it never gives a complete picture. We are very likely to see infection rates go up and down in communities and pockets in different parts of Kirklees in the coming weeks and months.
“We’re ready to deploy staff and testing units anywhere in Kirklees if we think it will help bring rates down. And we will be coming up with new ways of supporting people to bring rates down all the time.
“We are focusing our efforts in parts of North Kirklees for now but the advice is the same for everyone, whatever age you are and wherever you live. Keep social distancing, wash your hands regularly and isolate if you have symptoms or are contacted by the NHS test and trace service.”