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Fylde remains a Covid hotspot as Preston and Lancashire infection rate falls and police get new powers and house party fines rise from tonight

Posted on - 29th January, 2021 - 8:40pm | Author - | Posted in - Fylde News, Health, Politics, Preston News, Ribble Valley News, South Ribble News, Wyre News
A nearly empty Flag Market in Preston city centre during lockdown 3 Pic: Tony Worrall
A nearly empty Flag Market in Preston city centre during lockdown 3 Pic: Tony Worrall

Latest coronavirus infection rates show Fylde is still in England’s hotspot areas and Preston and the rest of Lancashire is continuing on a downward trend.

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Confirmed cases for Friday (29 January) were 81 new recorded cases for Preston.

South Ribble saw 66 new cases on the same day.

Fylde recorded 26 cases in the borough, Ribble Valley 24, Wyre up by 50 and Chorley 48 new cases.

Infection rate data shows Preston’s Covid-19 infection rate is continuing to fall, 436.7 cases per 100,000 people for the seven days to January 25, down from 506.5 cases per 100,000 people for the seven days to January 18.

Data, from the Public Health England dashboard, for the most recent four days (January 26-29) has been excluded as it is incomplete and does not reflect the true number of cases.

See the latest coronavirus cases near you

South Ribble’s infection rate is now 362, down from 452.2 – for the same two seven days periods as Preston.

Fylde is listed as England’s third fastest-growing Covid rate week-on-week, with the rate at 320.6, up from 293.4. It is the only area in Lancashire to see an increase in the infection rate.

Ribble Valley is at 330.1, down from 448.4.

Chorley is now 294.4, down from 355.3 and Wyre is now 261.4, down from 324.7.

Read more: Blog Preston readers share what they have been up to during lockdown 3

New fines come into force and police get extra data access powers over self-isolation enforcement

Police can now fine people £800 who are caught at house parties, as new laws came into force from 5pm on Friday (29 January).

The new laws also give police powers to access test and trace data.

It comes after data published by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) on Thursday showed just 332 fines had been issued by forces in England and three in Wales, to people failing to self-isolate after arriving from a country on the Government quarantine list between September 28 and January 17.

The latest laws, signed off by Health Secretary Matt Hancock, amend self-isolation regulations “to correct a number of errors” in previous versions of the legislation and “update the information which may be shared for the purposes of carrying out functions under the regulations, or preventing danger to the health of the public from the spread of coronavirus, and to allow certain information to be shared only where necessary for specified law enforcement purposes”.

Contact details, including a phone number and email address where available, can be shared if someone tests positive for coronavirus or if a person has come into close contact with a positive case, the laws state.

Last year, it emerged people in England who had been told to self-isolate through NHS Test and Trace could have their details shared with police on a case-by-case basis after the Government updated its guidance.

But police would not have access to data from the NHS Covid-19 app, which is anonymous so the Government does not know who has been sent instructions to self-isolate.

Test and Trace is now also able to share data with police to confirm whether someone is legally required to self-isolate, if officers receive reports they are flouting the rules.

The Government said the regulations have been updated to allow police to be told whether someone has tested positive, or is a close contact of someone who has, as well as when and how they were told to self-isolate.

This gives police the evidence they need to investigate if the law is being broken, a Government spokesman said, adding that the move is permitted under human rights and data protection laws.

Read more: Lancashire’s health experts urge people to get a test even if they don’t have ‘class Covid symptoms’

Human rights barrister Adam Wagner, who studies coronavirus rules and tries to simplify them for the public, said the changes will make it “easier for police to enforce people breaking self-isolation rules” but that it would raise questions over whether the data was being held securely, and whether this could make people “less willing to share information”.

Rosalind Comyn, policy and campaigns manager at Liberty, said: “Quietly adding this to the statute books without even announcing it, let alone allowing Parliament to scrutinise the changes, will further erode trust and undermines democratic accountability.”

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) said it had received “assurances that there is no automatic mass sharing of data from NHS Test and Trace to police forces” and that limited amounts of information could be shared under “strict controls”.

But the ICO would intervene if people had concerns about data protection law breaches, a spokeswoman added.

The Department of Health and Social Care said: “It is important the police are able to investigate breaches and they will continue to work with Test and Trace to take enforcement action against individuals who flout their legal duty to self-isolate, to protect the public and save lives.”

Read more: See the latest Preston news and headlines

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