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Concerns raised over Telford shoppers not wearing masks as Covid cases rise

By Lisa O'Brien | Telford | Coronavirus | Published:

Concerns over the NHS Test and Trace service and people failing to wear masks in Telford’s town centre shops were highlighted as councillors were told about a four-fold rise in the number of coronavirus cases confirmed in the town last week.

Addressing a virtual meeting of the Telford & Wrekin Council's health and wellbeing board on Thursday, Liz Noakes, the council's director of public health, said there were 26 cases of Covid-19 in the borough last week, compared to six the previous week.

She said the cases were spread across the borough, with many wards affected and only a few of the cases that could be linked to situations, leading her to reiterate the need for residents to follow the Government's guidelines.

Cases have been rising in many parts of the UK, including in Birmingham, Sandwell and Solihull where local lockdown rules were announced yesterday banning people from mixing with other households.

Following the update, Councillor Karen Tomlinson said she had been concerned about a number of people failing to wear face coverings in shops inside Telford's town centre shopping centre.

She said: "When we went to Telford yesterday we were a bit disappointed with the number of people who weren't wearing masks in shops and around the centre, even though they had security guards at all the entrances and exits there.

"They didn't seem to be getting people to wear the masks and in some stores we went into they weren't wearing masks either.

"It's a bit worrying and disappointing that's not happening."

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Ms Noakes said she was aware of the issue and it had been raised with the shopping centre.

In response, Telford Centre said it was in “continuous dialogue” with the council and most customers were following the rules.

Problems with the NHS Test and Trace service were also highlighted as a serious concern.

Telford & Wrekin Council's leader Shaun Davies has written to Health Secretary Matt Hancock over concerns about the situation county residents have faced trying to access coronavirus tests over the last few days.

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A regional Test and Trace site, run by the NHS at the Ironbridge Park and Ride car park has seen a catalogue of issues, with the centre closed while people queued to get in on Tuesday evening after it ran out of tests.

Other issues have included local people being offered test appointments in Scotland, Wales, and Oldham, instead of at the nearby site.

Mrs Noakes told Telford & Wrekin Council's health and wellbeing board that there had also been issues with laboratory capacity not being able to meet demand.

'Appalling'

Councillor Paul Watling told the meeting: "It's appalling what's happening locally.

"We've got situations where people are being sent to Manchester, Oldham and places like that.

"I cannot see the sense in that.

"It's a real mess at the moment. We hear that it's lab issues that's the problem but I cannot understand why someone would be sent to Oldham from Telford because of lab issues."

Councillor Andy Burford, who is on the committee and is also the council's cabinet member for health and social care, added: "I don't think we can understate the amount of stress that the chaotic national test and trace system is causing for our residents.

"We've got people here already under huge pressure as the result of needing to work, with their children going back to school, not being able to access a test.

"I know of somebody whose husband had to have an operation in London, he was told he had to have a test first.

"He rang up national test and trace and he got four different answers as to what he should do in one day from the call handlers.

"In the end he had to go to Wolverhampton for a test, already stressed about the operation, already stressed about whether he was going to fit this in on time."

Lisa O'Brien

By Lisa O'Brien
Senior Reporter - @lisaobrien_Star

Senior reporter based at Shropshire Star's head office in Ketley. Covering the Telford area.

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