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Coronavirus outbreak hits caravan park in Shropshire as 21 residents are diagnosed with the disease

A coronavirus outbreak at a caravan park in Shropshire has seen nearly two dozen residents struck down with the life-threatening disease. 

Twenty-one new cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed out of 41 people tested at the site, which is in the town of Craven Arms.

But council bosses fear the number of coronavirus cases will continue to rise before infection-control measures start to take effect. 

Officials say the risk to the public is ‘low’ as long as people stick to the coronavirus guidelines, which include social distancing and regular hand washing. 

The site has not been named and is only described as being ‘near Craven Arms’ — a town of 3,000 people.

There are several sites nestled in the area which offer pitches for caravans alongside tents.    

Testing began last week after three positive cases were confirmed at the site on July 24. 

Anyone who has tested positive has been told to self isolate for at least seven days in their caravan without going outdoors.

It led to the discovery of another 18 cases. It is currently unclear if these people were showing symptoms.

Rachel Robinson, Shropshire Council’s director of public health, said the cases were linked to an outbreak in the nearby Welsh town of Welshpool, which is just 25miles (40km) away.

Health officials at Powys Teaching Health Board said on July 24 it was aware of ‘a number of cases of coronavirus in the Welshpool area’. 

Posts on social media indicated that the cases have involved a group of people living at Leighton Arches, a traveller site, local media reported. 

Ms Robinson said outbreaks of Covid-19 were ‘not uncommon’ as the coronavirus crisis winds down.

‘We do expect that at this stage of a pandemic we will see cases in the community and we will see outbreaks,’ she said.

She added that the risk to the general public is ‘low’ but that everyone should continue to follow government guidelines. 

A testing centre has now been set up on a nearby business park, and everyone living on the site has been offered a test.

The centre will be open for the next two weeks between 10.30am and 3.30pm and those living nearby can book a test online via NHS Test and Trace or by ringing 119.

A playground close to the caravan park has also been closed to help reduce social contact and the risk of transmission.

It follows official figures which suggest cases of the coronavirus are creeping up. 

Around 1,000 more people are estimated to be catching the disease every day in England, compared with last week. 

Office for National Statistics data based on population testing predicts that daily infections have risen from 1,700 to 2,800 in the space of seven days, to a current total of 22,400 new cases per week. 

The 21 people who tested positive for coronavirus at the caravan site were asked to self-isolate for at least seven days from the time they started showing symptoms or from when they received their positive test result. 

Everyone on the site has been told to self-isolate for 14 days if they have been in contact with a positive case.

Shropshire Council said staff had been at the site providing residents with information on how to prevent the spread of the virus, its symptoms and what to do if they are feeling unwell.

It said it had been distributing personal protective equipment, hand sanitiser, cleaning products and other supplies to residents.

A playground and outdoor gym on nearby Newington Way has been temporarily closed to help curb transmission.

The council said it had been arranging the delivery of essential supplies, such as medicine, for residents, and the group living there has been cooperative with health practitioners.   

Councillor David Evans said: ‘Our priority is to protect the health and wellbeing of our local residents.

‘I’ve been in Craven Arms to talk to residents and businesses to answer any questions and reassure them that the risk to the general public is low.’

He added: ‘I would like to thank members of the community for their own ongoing support and cooperation.

‘We continue to rely on everyone at the site playing their part, and want to encourage the residents to continue to self-isolate and take all the necessary precautions.

‘This is the only way we can help stop the spread of the virus.’  

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