Portsmouth 'not going into lockdown' with just '5 new Covid-19 cases in June'

POLITICIANS in Portsmouth have said the city is not about to be plunged into a second lockdown despite a widely-reported list indicating a higher number of Covid-19 cases.

Wednesday, 1st July 2020, 12:58 pm
Updated Wednesday, 1st July 2020, 5:03 pm

Penny Mordaunt, a government minister and Portsmouth North MP, said on Twitter: ‘Heard some media reporting that Portsmouth is about to be locked down. It isn’t.’

A list in the Daily Express online yesterday puts the city as one of the 36 areas with ‘cases on the rise’. But this is based on an increase of one case in the week June 19-26, preceded and followed by a week of zero new cases.

There have been 325 confirmed cases in Portsmouth up to June 26, and 229 deaths at Queen Alexandra Hospital since March 14.

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General views of The Portsmouth Covid-19 testing center at Tipner West, off the M275, in Portsmouth. Picture: Naomi Baker/Getty Images

It comes as a row is erupting over government publishing data of Covid-19 testing in hospitals, but not that of testing in the community – including any done at sites such as the Tipner West facility.

In Leicester where there has been a local lockdown imposed, hospital testing data – known as pillar one – did not show a big rise. But when the second type of testing results were added, it showed a bigger increase.

Portsmouth City Council’s leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson said there had been just five cases in June, and none in the last seven days. This is based on pillar one testing.

When the second type is included, Portsmouth’s cumulative rate 227.8 cases per 100,000 – ranked 139 out of 150 unitary councils. The weekly rate is 0.9 per 100,000 and is 140 out of 150.

Pillar one data for Portsmouth puts the city at 136 out of 150, with a 151 cases per 100,000 population rate.

In a statement issued today, he said: ‘The current situation in Portsmouth is incredibly positive with no new cases of coronavirus for the last seven days and only five new cases for the month of June.

‘In fact, the city has one of the lowest infection rates of all upper-tier local authorities, ranking 136th out of 150 councils, and because of that government has confirmed it isn't considering introducing the sort of measures seen in Leicester.

‘This is down to how well Portsmouth residents have done in following the guidance to reduce the spread of the virus. I want to thank everyone for the sacrifices they've made as I appreciate it hasn't been easy, especially being apart from family and friends.

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‘However, to remain in this position we must continue to take care, especially as more places re-open. It remains critically important for everyone to continue to follow the guidance around social distancing, hand washing and respiratory hygiene.’

A poll of more than 4,500 people carried out on Facebook by The News found 61 per cent were worried about a possible local lockdown. The remaining 39 per cent were not worried.

The council has today published a plan on how it will monitor and respond to any outbreaks.

Helen Atkinson, director of Public Health at the city council, said: ‘We all clearly want to minimise the rate of coronavirus infection in the city so that we can continue to enjoy the relaxing of lockdown restrictions.

‘The outbreak control plan will help us to achieve this. It details the steps we need to take, and the people we need to work with, to monitor cases in the city so that if there are two or more in any single place we can act quickly and look to stop it spreading further.

‘If people continue to follow the guidance, including staying home and getting tested if they have symptoms, and self-isolating if they're a close contact of a positive case, then we can remain in a positive position and won't need to consider reverting back to lockdown restrictions.’