Faith communities in Preston and across Lancashire are being urged to pause communal prayer and worship during lockdown three, to help prevent the spread of the new Covid variant.Advertisement
In a letter released yesterday (Thursday 7 January), Lancashire’s Directors of Public Health said they realised it was “a big request”, but that the temporary change would “help protect our communities at this critical stage of the pandemic”.
While communal worship is not banned during lockdown, Dominic Harrison, Dr Sakthi Karunanithi and Dr Arif Rajpura say there are “significant infection risks” due to people socialising before and after worship.
They say the request is due to “worrying increases in the number of people hospitalised from Covid, as well as increasing numbers of deaths” and state that the NHS is under “enormous strain” across the county.
Read more: Preston and South Ribble coronavirus infection rates surging towards 400 mark
The public health leaders also advise that should faith groups decide to continue with communal prayer and worship during lockdown – despite the strong advice against it – new risk assessments should be undertaken.
They say the new increased risk of transmission will require “a much higher level of infection control and compliance to achieve the same level of safety as the previous measures”.
The letter also thanks faith groups for their support dealing with Covid, saying: “You have helped your communities in so many different ways during these difficult times”.
The full letter can be read on the Lancashire Resilience Forum’s Twitter account.
Latest infection rate data from the Public Health England dashboard shows Preston’s infection rate is now 366.1 cases per 100,000 people for the seven days to January 3, up from 213.1 cases per 100,000 people for the seven days to December 27.
South Ribble’s infection rate is now 393.5, up from 173.3, for the same two date periods as Preston.
Wyre’s rate is 379.2, up from 173.1 while Fylde is 274.8 up from 165.9.
Ribble Valley has a rate just below the average for England and has now topped 600, at 601.1 up from 361.3.
The figures don’t include the most recent four days of cases, January 4-7, as cases are often re-assigned or data changed.
Read more: See the latest Preston news and headlines
What do you think of the public health leaders’ plea for communal worship to pause? Let us know in the comments.