Derbyshire's Director for Public Health is urgently appealing for people who live and work in Gamesley and Glossopdale to get tested regularly for Covid-19, following an outbreak suspected to be linked to the Indian variant of the virus.
While the number of cases in the area overall are relatively low, they almost doubled from 24 cases confirmed between 21 April and 4 May, to 45 cases confirmed between 5 and 18 May – including 14 cases suspected to be the new Indian strain that spreads more easily.
It is the first significant outbreak in Derbyshire directly linked to the Indian variant, which has also been identified in Long Eaton in Erewash and the Derbyshire Dales.
Dean Wallace has also said that the mutation of the virus is likely to become the dominant strain in the county.
Mr Wallace said: “This is a significant outbreak and I understand people will be concerned, but I’d like to reassure residents that we’re working closely with Public Health England to minimise the spread.
“We’re doing everything we can to quickly follow-up new positive cases and the people they’ve been in close contact with to advise them of the importance of self-isolating - which is vital to prevent them from passing it on to others.
“There’s currently no evidence that the Indian variant causes more severe illness, is more deadly or makes the current vaccines any less effective, but it does spread more easily – which is why we need everyone to be on their guard.
“There’s a real chance to stop the virus from spreading in the High Peak but we need the community to pull together and do the right things and I cannot stress enough the importance of getting a test.
“We’re asking everyone aged 16 and over who lives or works in the Gamesley area to go to our testing centre at the Geoffrey Allen Centre in Gamesley and take a test whether they have symptoms or not.
“One out of three people who have the virus don’t have symptoms, so just because you feel ok doesn’t mean you haven’t got it – and you could be spreading it to your friends, family and work mates. Staff at the centre will direct you to a separate area to be tested if you do not have symptoms.”
Glossopdale and Gamesley people are being urged to get tested, regardless of whether or not they have any symptoms
Where to get a test
Testing at the Geoffrey Allen Centre on Winster Mews (SK13 0LU) will take place from Saturday 22 May until Friday 28 May, between 9am and 5pm. This is PCR testing – tests that are sent to a laboratory for analysis.
There is no need to book, you can just turn up, and people are being encouraged to drive to the centre if possible so that you can do the test inside your car. The car park will be closed to other road users as a result.
There is also a walk-in facility for anyone who does not have a car.
The mobile testing unit based on the car park at Winster Mews. Picture: John Parkins.
Anyone with the main coronavirus symptoms – a high temperature, a new continuous cough or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – should go for a test and self-isolate immediately. People who have to self-isolate may be eligible for a support payment of £500. Visit derbyshire.gov.uk/gamesleyarea to find out more.
People are being asked to keep a look out for a wider range of symptoms which could be a sign that they have the virus including a tummy ache, sore throat, loss of appetite, diarrhoea, feeling or being sick, headaches, joint pain, muscle ache, runny nose, sneezing, feeling drowsy, tiredness, muscle aches or generally feeling poorly.
Anyone living and working in the rest of the High Peak is being encouraged to take a rapid lateral flow test twice a week at one of the community testing centres or at home. These tests can be taken at home and give results in 30 minutes.
A temporary community testing centre is being set up in Glossop on the sports pitch (redgra) next to the Army Cadet building on Fauvel Road, SK13 7DW. It will be open from Monday 24 May to Friday 28 May from 10am until 4pm.
The mobile Covid-19 testing site situated off Fauvel Road in Glossop
The existing community testing centre in Buxton can be found at the Pavilion Gardens in the arts centre / cinema (access from the promenade), St John's Road, SK17 6BE. It is open every day until Thursday 27 May from 7.45am to 7pm.
Home testing kits are free and can be ordered online to be delivered to your home or you can pick a pack up from specific pharmacies. Visit derbyshire.gov.uk/hometestkits to find out more.
'This outbreak is a timely reminder that Covid hasn't gone away'
Mr Wallace added: “I know people will be looking forward to doing more of the things they love, but I’m asking everyone in the Gamesley area and across Derbyshire to take a sensible approach at this time and think carefully about the risks to their loved ones before making any decisions about mixing indoors.
“It’s true that opening windows and doors helps to disperse Covid particles in the air but it’s far safer to stay outside in the open air where the risk of catching the virus is much lower.
“It’s still vitally important that you continue to wear a face covering where required unless you are exempt, to keep on washing your hands regularly and keep two metres away from anyone not in your household.
“We’ve come so far in our fight against this pandemic and the vaccine has been a real turning point, but this outbreak is a timely reminder that Covid hasn’t gone away and we still need to take precautions to protect those we love from this illness – especially those not yet vaccinated.
“Thanks to everyone continuing to follow the guidance and get tested regularly to help bring this outbreak under control. I’d urge everyone throughout Derbyshire to keep going and use your judgement to keep everyone safe.”
For more information, visit derbyshire.gov.uk/gamesleyarea.
Some of the Covid public health signage which has been displayed around the county in recent weeks