Covid testing surge was predictable says Essex councillor

A senior Essex county councillor says he “regrets” that the government did not predict a surge in testing that was “quite predictable”.

Cabinet member Cllr John Spence was speaking at a health board meeting under the backdrop of increasing acrimonious finger pointing – Boris Johnson defended the coronavirus testing system at Prime Minster’s questions, saying it is trying to meet a “colossal spike” in demand.

But Cllr Spence said it was clear to teachers that there would be a spike in the abundance of the colds once schools go back.

He said: “I regret the government didn’t seem to predict what I, as the husband of a former teacher and father of a current school teacher did, that as soon as schools go back you get lots of colds and people think they have the symptoms even if it is proven they do not.

“I honestly believe this surge in testing was quite predictable.”

The committee heard that although an increase in the number of cases in Essex recently had been largely driven by infection among young people, new data was showing that the disease had started to spread back into the older generations of ages 60 and above.

Public health director Mike Gogarty said: “We are starting to see a lot of outbreaks in schools and it is very likely we will see increasing cases partly driven by the hospitality industry and partly by what is happening in the educational setting.

“What we have seen recently is that most cases have been in young people and that has been related to relaxations in the hospitality industry.

“To date we have not seen much spread to older groups but unfortunately we are now starting to see an increase in cases in the older groups.

“In the last couple of weeks there have been more cases in the 60 to 69 and 70 to 79 age groups as well as the bigger increases within the younger groups.

“So sadly, as has been predicated nationally and in other countries, the younger people being infected in the hospitality industry are now tending to pass that on to their older relatives and that could lead to impacts on hospital services, because to date we haven’t seen that because the younger groups shake this off reasonably well.”


Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter