Coronavirus: the latest situation in the Melton borough
Steps are being taken to lessen the impact of the coronavirus on residents in the Melton borough.
Two people in Leicestershire have this week tested positive for the potentially lethal virus although it is unclear at this stage where they both live in the county.
Health authorities are trying to locate people they have been in contact with to lessen the spread.
Melton Borough Council has formed a working group to monitor the situation and respond if it worsens, with six people in the UK already having died after contracting it.
A spokesperson for Melton Council told the Melton Times: “The council is preparing to ensure it is able to respond quickly and effectively to the needs of any affected communities should the situation worsen.
“We are committed to limiting any reduction in our services to residents.
“The council has formed a working group which continues to review policies as guidance develops which has oversight from senior management as well as attending regular multi-agency meetings which is part of a national framework specifically to deal with the impact of coronavirus.”
It was announced today (Wednesday) that there are 460 people who have tested positive for the virus in the UK, after the biggest rise in a single day.
The results were revealed on a day when the World Health Organisation upgraded the status of the outbreak to a pandemic.
The UK numbers are much lower than other parts of the world, with 10,000 cases reported in Italy, for example.
There is concern that organisers of upcoming Melton events will suffer huge losses if the government brings in a ban on the gathering of large groups of people in a bid to contain the virus.
Matthew O’Callaghan, who organises the annual Artisan Cheese Fair in Melton, which attracts thousands of people to the town’s livestock market, has considered cancelling this year’s event, on the weekend of May 2 and 3, because of the coronavirus outbreak.
He is concerned that the insurance for the fair would cover damage and injuries but not the cost of cancellation.
Mr O’Callaghan has written to Melton MP Alicia Kearns for advice on the issue and for information on any plans for the government to address the potential losses from events as a result of the virus situation.
In his letter, he writes: “Given the situation on the coronavirus crisis, I have to make a decision almost immediately as to whether or not to continue with the planning for the Artisan Cheese Fair.
“It will cost upwards of £30,000 to organise this festival and all the costs have to be paid upfront well in advance with no possibility of refund in case of cancellation.
“The potential loss if the event has to be cancelled may mean that I cease to organise events in the future in Melton.”
Aside from the cheese fair, there are many other scheduled Melton events which could be cancelled by the coronavirus outbreak, including the 75th anniversary VE Day celebrations in early May.
Some employees in the borough are working from home to lessen the spread of the virus and there has also been evidence of panic buying with products such as toilet rolls, anti-septic gels and soaps selling out quickly.
Mike Sandys, director of public health for Leicestershire County Council, said: “I’d like to reassure people that the risk to the general public remains low and the local authority is working with health colleagues to do everything we can to stop the virus spreading and ensure the people of Leicestershire are protected.
“Good hygiene is the best prevention and there are some simple steps you can take to protect you and your family by washing your hands regularly and thoroughly and if you cough, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue.
“If you have recently been to one of the affected areas and are feeling unwell, you should use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service or call NHS 111 for further advice straight away – please don’t go to your doctor or a hospital.
“There’s lots of advice on how people can protect themselves online.”
Go online at www.nhs.uk/coronavirus for advice and up-to-date information about the COVID-19 and how to prevent its spread.