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Another Rise in Covid-19 Figures in Guildford and County But Still Low Nationally

Published on: 20 Oct, 2020
Updated on: 21 Oct, 2020

By Martin Giles

Despite a continuing sharp rise of Covid-19 infections in Guildford borough and the county, virus-related hospital admissions and deaths in Surrey remain at low levels relative to national figures.

See also: Elmbridge Council Reacts to Covid Tier 2 Status

For the week ending October 17, there were 269 Covid-19 hospital admissions in the entire South East, with a population of 9.2 million, and four deaths in Surrey where Covid was on the death certificate.

The graph does not show Covid deaths that occur in care homes or in the community.

But the southern half of Guildford has a very high rate of new infections, between 200 and 400 per 100,000 of population.

October 20 map showing new (seven-day) infection rates within “Middle Layer Super Output Areas” (MSOA) of about 7,000 people.

The Borough of Guildford is currently under Tier 1 (medium alert) category of Covid Restrictions.

Last week, an email sent to students by the University of Surrey stated: “As of Thursday, October 15, 22 members of our community are self-isolating after testing positive for Covid-19. We are supporting them and wish them a speedy recovery.”

Such a rate, if it represents all cases within a fortnight’s isolation period, would be below the average Guildford borough figure of 97 cases per 100,000 of the population in the past seven days. There are believed to be about 17,000 students at UoS.

Deborah Lawson, director of Faculty Operations and silver commander for Covid-19, said: “The latest national data and new regional restrictions from the government indicate this is no time for complacency.

“Numbers are relatively low but rising in Surrey and across the South-east… We urge everyone to remain vigilant and take all steps necessary to reduce risks to themselves and others.”

The university email said that from October 20 tests are available for students and staff within the campus, adding: “Next week construction begins on the new Local Testing Site on the Guildford School of Acting (GSA) car park.

“This will be available for all students and staff at the university and for members of the local community who book a test through the NHS or who are referred through our Rapid Response team.”

The Dragon asked GBC leader Joss Bigmore about the second wave.

What preparations being made?

We continue to work closely with our Local Resilience Forum partners (including Surrey County Council, police, Fire and Rescue, health and other districts and boroughs) and on outbreak management plans at county and borough level.

The Surrey Local Outbreak Control Plan is available [click here], and we continue to monitor local intelligence. We also have our own organisational plans which includes all aspects of managing our services, keeping our borough and staff safe and ensuring we have sufficient PPE in place.

What lessons did GBC learn in the first wave?

Our immediate response, which included an emergency budget of £15m, redeploying staff to prove extra services to support our residents, such as local hot food delivery, extra community helplines, food parcels, and supporting our businesses with advice and additional grants, meant we were able to support our most vulnerable groups and we will do this again.

We were part of a county-wide debrief after the first wave to share key learnings. We are also consistently reviewing and evaluating our work to incorporate any lessons learnt, and our response to Covid-19 has been a standing agenda item for our Overview and Scrutiny Committee since April.


Click on image to enlarge.

Is any information (other than personal information) on Covid planning kept secret/confidential? If so, why?

We follow the Government Security Classification System [explained here]. As Category 1 responders under the Civil Contingencies Act we have a duty to put plans in place and some of these will not be available to the public. [Read more here.]

Does the council have access to any Covid planning information not available to the public?

As a member of LRF, there will be times when we have access to data that may be confidential.

Julie Armstrong, local democracy reporter, writes: Many boroughs in Greater London such as Kingston and Richmond bordering parts of Surrey are still under Tier 1 restrictions, where meeting different households indoors is still allowed as long as you stick to the rule of six.

This means some roads are split in half, with residents and businesses on one side facing stricter measures than those just a few metres away.

To make life even more confusing, not all of Surrey is under the same tier, with the district of Elmbridge also joining London and most of Essex in tougher “High” Tier 2 restrictions.

And if you’re from a Tier 2 area, you must still stick to Tier 2 rules even when you enter a Tier 1 area just up the road, because the rules you must follow are those from where you live, not where you go.

The government’s guidance for Tier 2 areas says: “If you live in a high alert level area you also cannot meet indoors with people outside of the area, unless exceptions apply.”

Exceptions include support bubbles, for work or education, childcare arrangements and providing emergency assistance.

In most cases, council borders follow natural ones, such as rivers and parks that separate areas. But, for an unlucky few, there isn’t much of a distinction.

See also: Local Covid-19 Stats

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Responses to Another Rise in Covid-19 Figures in Guildford and County But Still Low Nationally

  1. David Roberts Reply

    October 21, 2020 at 3:14 pm

    I’ve heard it suggested that students with Covid in other parts of the country are being recorded under their home addresses. If so, this could distort local figures hugely.

    A SCC spokesperson said: “Students leaving home in Elmbridge, testing positive elsewhere and that being reported as Elmbridge data only accounts for 14% of cases, which does not substantially change the escalating trend seen there.”

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