MPs on Covid-19 challenge: Are underlying health issues linked to mining behind Atherstone and North Warwickshire being a virus hotspot?

  Posted: 18.06.20 at 12:25 by Nick Hudson

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ATHERSTONE and North Warwickshire’s mining past has been cited for making fighting Covid-19 “more challenging” as five deaths have been announced in three days at the town’s main hospital.

George Eliot Hospital has raised concerns over the number of new cases presenting daily as North Warwickshire’s MPs have played down suggestions the area is seeing a spike now.

Atherstone MP Craig Tracey and his neighbouring Tory MP for Nuneaton, Marcus Jones, have issued a joint statement after new reports focused on “many more” than the reported 40 being treated in the Nuneaton hospital after testing positive.

The news is in sharp contrast to a picture across the UK of falling cases and fatalities – with one in three NHS hospital trusts having recorded no coronavirus deaths for a week, according to the Office for National Statistics.

George Eliot Hospoital: Five deaths announced in the last four days

New research from professors at the University of Oxford found there had been no deaths in the past seven days at 49 trusts – 37 per cent of the 131 included in the study.

A three-way investigation involving the hospital, Public Health England and NHS England/Improvement is underway just days after Warwickshire Police joined the county council in appealing to the public to “continue” making the necessary sacrifices to prevent a deadly new spread of coronavirus – after reports certain groups are not adhering to social distancing measures.

Residents have been told by the combined posse of local authority and police chiefs to stick to Government guidance as “we’re nowhere near being out of the words” in the fight against a pandemic which has already killed 72 people across the town and district up to the end of May.

The statement highlighted larger than permitted gatherings and parties” in gardens with people from different households, and not strictly remaining outside, as well as large groups of children socialising together.

Today the MPs assured constituents there was “no evidence” to support claims more local people are declaring symptoms of Covid-19 while Warwickshire County Councillor Keith Kondakor said five deaths had been announced in three days at the hospital – three of them in a 24-hour period which was “on a par with figures from London”.

The MPs stressed: “It is important to be clear that the trend in the numbers of cases in our area is downwards.”

And then they introduced another element as no one has fully explained why Atherstone and North Warwickshire has one of the highest rates of confirmed coronavirus cases per 100,000 population of any of its neighbouring Midland authorities including Birmingham and Coventry.

The MPs’ statement added: “It is important that we work together to continue to ensure that we do everything we can to support a community that has more underlying health issues as a result of our industrial past, which make the Covid issue more challenging.”

Mr Tracey, along with Mr Jones, welcomed the work being done by the hospital, Warwickshire Public Health, PHE and NHS England in “looking at ways in which the situation in our area can be further improved”.

They went on: “We also understand that any suggestion there are more deaths locally than in neighbouring areas will cause alarm and obviously every death is a tragedy – so our sincere condolences go to the family and friends of those who have passed away due to coronavirus.

A total of 72 people have died from Covid-19 across Atherstone and North Warwickshire between March and May of this year, according to new figures.

Last week Nub News revealed latest official data where the virus was listed as the cause of death has been released by the Office for National Statistics.

As of yesterday North Warwickshire has reported 210 Covid-19 cases – at one of the highest rate per 100,000 population of any of its neighbouring Midland authorities including Birmingham and Coventry.

Its rate is 323.8 per 100,000 compared Nuneaton and Bedworth’s 479 cases at 371.6 per 100,000, Solihull’s 677 cases at 315 per 100,000, Birmingham’s 3,322 cases testing positive at 291.1 per 100,000 and Coventry’s 832 cases at 226.8 per 100,000.

Warwickshire’s total of confirmed cases stands at 1,559 with a rate per 100,000 of 273.

The UK total is edging towards 300,000 – yesterday’s figures were 299,251 (up 1,115 from the previous day) with our grim death toll standing at 42,153.

The 24-hour total death total increased by 184 people across the UK.

But the real total of coronavirus-related deaths is at least 53,077, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Tuesday's figures from the ONS show there were more than 64,000 excess deaths in in the UK between March 21 and June 5, 2020. Covid-19 has been responsible for 80 per cent of the excess deaths registered in England and Wales

World cases have now topped the eight million mark – currently 8,408,869 – and the death tally gone past 450,000 at 451,472.

More than half of those who have tested positive have now recovered (4,418,800).

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A message from the Editor, Nick Hudson

Hi, I'm Nick Hudson, the Editor of Atherstone Nub News.

I began my local news career almost half a century ago by covering the town for the old Atherstone, Nuneaton & Bedworth Observer. I attended the Shrovetide Ball Game and reported on the old Southern League Premier side Atherstone Town when ex-England keeper Gil Merrick was the manager, coaching a young Gerry Peyton who went on to hold the No 1 jersey for the Republic of Ireland. Later I was to be the first team captain of Atherstone Hockey Club, and its chairman.

I'm now back to my roots and I want you - the great people of Atherstone - to join me in making the news in your own images. We're going back in time to resurrect a bygone golden age of local reporting while embracing all the advantages of the modern digital era where information is available 24/7 with "your town in your pocket".

We're here to get to the heart and soul of the community, delivering local news and covering national issues on your doorstep. There will always be a good read on Atherstone Nub News - because it's about you.

You can contact me with your Atherstone news by phoning 07852 490666 or by emailing [email protected].