HMOs have been given a clean bill of health by officials in the Northamptonshire town of Corby, which has the highest seven-day Covid rate in the country.
Councils around the UK have flagged up HMOs as a particular transmission risk, with many issuing strict guidance for tenants such as advising them to disinfectant toilet handles before and after use and to eat in their rooms when shared areas are too busy.
Corby is struggling to get its infection rates down and some have pointed the finger at the thousands of residents who work in factories and logistics warehouses and often live in cramped conditions in shared housing. However, Northamptonshire County Council data shows that HMOs aren’t a significant factor.
Consultant in public health, Rhosyn Harris, insists there is no evidence based on the 130 cases in the past week that HMOs are driving an increase in those case rates.
She adds: “We do know that there are challenges around managing transmission in HMOs, just as with any other busy household, and we produce a lot of guidance to support busy households in terms of reducing transmission – but there’s nothing to point to that being a driver of recent case rate increases.”
She says the town is facing factors that make their work more challenging such as being a particularly tight-knit community.
“You are less likely to want to get tested and to take up our offer of testing if you feel that you are in a low paid job or have insecure employment and you’re worried about what might happen if you have to isolate for two weeks,” adds Harris (pictured). “We know that more people in Corby than in other places around the country fall into that category.”
In a bid to curb cases, Public Health Northamptonshire has launched a new awareness campaign called ‘Take Care in the Open Air’ which includes reminders about reducing physical contact outdoors.