WARRINGTON’S director of public health says she is ‘excited’ about the array of events due to take place in Warrington over the coming weeks and months.

But she says she is ‘trepidatious’ that it could result in a spike in coronavirus cases and the effect this could have on Warrington Hospital.

Thara Raj made the comments this morning, Thursday, while appearing on BBC Breakfast to discuss the risk of transmitting Covid while attending such events.

The main event referenced was Creamfields music festival, which kicks off today in Daresbury for the next four days.

When asked what precautions are in place to keep people safe, Thara said: “Public Health England has published a really useful risk assessment toolkit, so organisers and local authorities have been using that to go through and they include things like ventilation – it’s key.

“Trying to disperse crowds, if you’ve got touchpoints like toilets or bar areas etc, be cautious, wear face coverings – that’s the sort of advice being given.

Thara Raj in the BBC Breakfast studio alongside presenters Charlie Stayt and Naga Munchetty (Image: BBC)

Thara Raj in the BBC Breakfast studio alongside presenters Charlie Stayt and Naga Munchetty (Image: BBC)

“As you know, there are easing restrictions, we’ve got good weather for the bank holiday weekend, there’s going to be people who haven’t been to these events for a couple of years.

“And the difficulty is that coronavirus rates are still very high, we’re higher than we were this time last year.

“So going into festivals and events – it is legal to go to large and small events – but it’s about personal responsibility.

“The organisers have done a really good job – local events in Warrington like Neighbourhood Weekender and Disability Awareness Day – they’ve been meticulous.”

When asked if Warrington could take a stance similar to Cornwall, which has seen a spike in cases after a recent festival and told people not to visit, Thara sais she would nevver tell people not to come to the town.

“I’ll be honest, we’ve got the Tour of Britain coming, we’ve got the events I’ve mentioned, I’m excited, but also trepidatious, because while all the planning has been done, our NHS colleagues locally are fearful that rates will tip into hospitalisations," she commented.

Creamfields 2019

Creamfields 2019

“I don’t want people to stop coming to Warrington or Cheshire.

“I think it’s about acting sensibly, we know how to keep safe. Keep social distancing, if you’re in unfamiliar territory wear a face covering, if you’re going to a festival, think about who you’re meeting before you go.

“It’s those sort of things – if you meet friends and family before going, make sure you’re meeting outside for example. I’d issue that sort of advice before saying don’t’ come, don’t travel.”

A key part of ensuring the risk of Covid transmission is at a minimum is checking whether attendees are double vaccinated or have taken a test beforehand.

This is something that the council is actively supporting, according to Thara.

She added: “We’re giving as much advice as possible, as much support – the main thing is asking people to get vaccinated if they haven’t - it’s never too late - taking regular LFTs, especially before the day of the event.

Signs around Creamfields

Signs around Creamfields

“I will be physically there supporting (Weekender), making sure, in the way we did for the elections, doing quality checking.”

There is a risk that coronavirus could lead to serious pressure on Warrington Hospital however, and that is something Thara is hoping will not happen.

“Unfortunately, we’re seeing higher levels of hospitalisations locally, in the Cheshire area.

“The man in charge of the hospital, Simon (Constable) is worried. Our capacity is getting close to full.

“We’re not getting completely close – but we are getting close in terms of our ability to look after people in intensive care.

“But that doesn’t mean that people aren’t going to be cared for. And that’s the tipping point.”