Kirklees Council’s public health chief Rachel Spencer-Henshall has pledged to use “postcode level data” to target parts of the district with the highest Covid-19 infection rates.
Concern has been expressed that Kirklees as a whole was being “punished” for a handful of hotspot areas.
Those complaints were heightened this week when the Government changed its guidance to advise against travel into and out of Kirklees.
In Parliament Colne Valley Tory MP Jason McCartney demanded the use of detailed “granular” data to drill down into the areas worst affected.
With the infection rate the fifth highest in Kirklees, the local authority – backed by the NHS – has started door-to-door surge testing in Savile Town and Thornhill Lees, the parts of Dewsbury with the highest local infection rates. The Indian variant has previously been identified in Huddersfield.
Ms Spencer-Henshall said she was conscious that Kirklees was a large, sprawling area.
Infection levels were “not the same across Kirklees” she said but added: “Equally we are putting a mobile testing centre into Honley because we have seen an increase in cases there. We need to be led by that data and intelligence.”
Ms Spencer-Henshall added: “We have postcode level data and that’s why we are doing a street level approach. There’s always a balance between everybody in the country, let alone Kirklees, making sure everybody is following the guidance.”
She said while they wanted to go “hyperlocal” the infection could still move and pop up elsewhere. “Even if it’s only in certain places it can sometimes bubble up in other areas. It’s important we stay cautious.”
Ms Spencer-Henshall was asked about vaccine hesitancy and whether that was linked to factors such as culture or religion.
She said the council had teams out in local communities exploring the reasons and added: “Overwhelmingly people who are a little bit hesitant just want a conversation with a health professional.”
Ms Spencer-Henshall said she believes the main reason for vaccine hesitancy was one of “convenience.” She added: “We have a number of community groups that have got some Government money and they are working with specific communities to get a sense of what the barriers are.
“From what we know from our community insight people have complex shift patterns so they travel a lot and appointments are not convenient. Overwhelmingly it’s more about convenience and being in a place that’s not close to home.”
Ms Spencer-Henshall insisted there was no ban on travel into or out of Kirklees. She said the Government’s published guidance was “advisory.”
People should “carry out their own personal risk assessment” but travel was “perfectly acceptable” under the Government’s roadmap out of the lockdown