Coronavirus: Luton people share their concerns as infections rise

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South Beds News Agency

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A testing site was set up at Downside Primary School in Luton after residents were urged to get screened

People in Luton are being urged to take a coronavirus test – whether or not they have symptoms – amid a surge of cases. At a time when some lockdown measures are being loosened elsewhere, how does it feel to live in a town in a state of high alert?Gyms, pools, fitness and dance studios and other sports facilities reopened nationally on Saturday but in Luton, they are still closed.The town, which has a population of 214,100, is designated an “area of intervention” by Public Health England (PHE) due to a rise in coronavirus cases.

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South Beds News

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Luton has been designated an “area of intervention” by Public Health England

Last week Luton Borough Council urged people in certain postcode areas to get tested. Now all residents are being encouraged to do so.The town’s infection rate in the week to 23 July was 19.1 per 100,000 people. In Blackburn, also an area of intervention, the figure was 73.9.Councillors and health officials hope to avoid following Leicester, the first city in the UK to go into a second lockdown. The rate there was 64.2.Further changes from 1 August, including the reopening of bowling alleys, skating rinks and casinos, are not expected to take effect in Luton, and shielding advice will remain in place after 31 July, the council said. The new advice came as three Luton councillors apologised for breaking lockdown rules after attending a large social gathering.’Everything going back to how it was unsettles me’

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Nevada Claxton

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Nevada Claxton says she is unsettled at the prospect of a further lockdown

Nevada Claxton was so excited about 2020 as she cheered in the new year with her friends.She was turning 18, finishing sixth form and starting university in September. Fast-forward nearly seven months and she has had a lockdown birthday and her plans for “one last summer of fun” with school friends are in tatters. She has considered deferring her university place in London and worries about friends in areas of Luton where cases are on the rise.Having noted that few people were wearing masks before they became compulsory in shops, the increase in infections did not surprise her.”When they said cases were spiking, I kind of expected it – it was obvious they would,” she said.”It’s scary to think that although it might not affect you, a lot of your friends and their families live in areas where cases have spiked.”It affects BAME (black and minority ethnic) people at such a high rate and you just hope no-one comes down with anything.”Nevada said lockdown was “like a grieving process” of adjustment and she has mixed emotions about the possibility of another.”Everything going back to how it was at the start of lockdown; it unsettles me a little,” she said.”But looking around, there are people who have lost their lives and that didn’t happen to anyone I’m close to and I have to be grateful.”‘We have to keep reminding customers to social distance’

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Kadeja Gedeon

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Kadeja Gedeon admits she is worried about the situation in Luton

Kadeja Gedeon, 18, should have been looking forward to moving to Leicester to begin a course in child nursing at De Montfort University.Instead, from September her studies will be online, and the prospect of her eventual move 70 miles (112km) up the M1 fills her with trepidation.”What if I catch it or someone that I’m living with catches it?” she said.”There’s just a lot of emotions and thoughts that play in mind when it comes to moving. It doesn’t give us a chance to experience what uni is like in our first year.”For now, she is also concerned about the increase in cases in Luton. Her great uncle died after contracting the virus in April. Like Nevada, she has seen problems with people not socially distancing.”It worries me. We were getting to a stage where it was under control but now it makes me wonder, will we ever get out of this process?”If people just listened to the rules we had in place it would be much easier, but everyone has their own opinions and views so they just tend to do whatever they want.”I work in a Caribbean supermarket and we have to keep reminding customers to social distance. “When I’ve been into Luton town centre you’ve got people walking up close to you.”‘If a lockdown is necessary, I’m all for it’

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Ben Summerson

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Ben Summerson has found lockdown challenging, but is in favour of restrictions if they keep people safe

Ben Summerson, 23, a manager at a learning disability charity, worked throughout lockdown, receiving regular coronavirus tests.Covid-19 has not directly affected him or his family but he is aware that friends have lost loved ones.”That is very disconcerting. The more people that have it, the worse it is on your mental health – you want people to be well,” he said. “I’ve been very lucky and I am OK in the daytime when I’m working, but in the evenings I’ve found it really challenging because I’m a sociable person and I want to get out and see people.”On the rise in cases and the pause in lockdown easing, he said: “I think it’s a shame. “A lot of people I know are getting back into normal routines, including me, so it’s disappointing. “I’d been to barbecues, met up with friends, been to the pub and for walks, catching up with people I hadn’t seen for quite some time.”I was looking at rejoining the gym – I’ve put on a bit of weight in lockdown – so it’s a shame I can’t do that.”Anything to keep people safe is the way forward, so if a lockdown necessary I am all for it.”

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