Amber Valley now has highest rates of Covid infections in Derbyshire

Amber Valley has emerged as a new Covid-19 hotspot with the highest rate of new cases of all Derbyshire’s districts.

Thursday, 19th November 2020, 12:08 pm

The rate of new cases in the district – which includes Ripley, Heanor, Belper and Alfreton – is now 453 per 100,000 people in the week to November 12, latest adjusted figures show.

This is more than in Bolsover, which had been leading the way in Derbyshire and the whole East Midlands for the past few weeks.

Government data on Covid is released in different tranches and the more detailed the information, the longer it takes to be reviewed and checked and become accurate and dependable.

Amber Valley is now the main Covid-19 hotspot in Derbyshire

Case numbers are not dependable until several days after they are reported, so the most recent case rate data available is for the week up to November 12, while the more minute data for local areas is for the week up to November 11.

Figures show that Amber Valley is the only Derbyshire district to have surpassed 1,000 new cases within the first two weeks of November.

Amber Valley had taken the whole of October to surpass 1,000 cases.

It has so far clocked more than 100 cases in a day on four occasions in November.

Derby is the only other area in Derbyshire to have registered more than 100 cases in a day to date – though it is much larger, making it incomparable to the county’s districts.

A government map showing cases by local area in the week up to November 11 shows that cases in Amber Valley are focused around its main towns – the more populated areas.

The local area (grouped by population of around 7,500 people) within Amber Valley with the most new cases in the week to November 11 was Ripley South & Loscoe with 54 new cases.

It is followed by Belper Town with 44 cases, Heanor East & Langley Mill with 43, Ripley East, Riddings & Ironville with 42, and Belper Far Laund with 41.

Previously, Derbyshire’s public health director, Dean Wallace, has said cases can spike for a number of reasons, including the types of jobs which are most prevalent in an area, the number of care home beds and the level of poverty – which is particularly high in some areas of Amber Valley.

The district is well known for its focus on manufacturing and industry – including many jobs which cannot be carried out from home.

This is likely to mean people in the area are more at risk than those in the neighbouring Derbyshire Dales, for example, due to the inability to self-isolate.

The number of people working low paying jobs can have an impact due to the higher chance of being furloughed or being made redundant.

Poverty levels in some areas of the borough will mean that some people will have to leave their homes more often to get food shopping, increasing their risk of contracting the virus.

Households may not have access to a car which might leave them taking public transport, heightening their risk again.

It is hoped that after two weeks of Covid restrictions being in place, through lockdown and the tiered regional system, that the level of infections in the community will begin to drop.

This is the aim to be achieved to allow lockdown to be eased and not extended from December 2.

However, within Derbyshire, the level of infections is fluctuating and in some areas, including Amber Valley, it continues to rise.

Dr Susan Hopkins, deputy director at Public Health England, said this is expected drop off towards the end of the week.

Since lockdown started the rates of new cases in Chesterfield, High Peak and North East Derbyshire have fallen.

Chesterfield, Glossopdale in the High Peak and North East Derbyshire had been in tier two restrictions for nearly three weeks before lockdown started.

The rest of the county, minus Erewash, had only been in extra measures for five days before lockdown and all have rates of new cases higher than when lockdown started.

Mr Wallace suggested that the four-week less-severe lockdown until December 2 will not be enough to bring cases in Derbyshire back to acceptable levels and restrictions will still be needed.

If they remain at the level or above the level they were before lockdown this could mean tier three restrictions – if the national measures are lifted, although Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, said it was too early at this stage to know if lockdown will need to be extended.