A COUNCILLOR who was pressured into removing a map showing local coronavirus cases over fears it would cause unnecessary panic has said he hopes health bosses take up the idea.

Councillor Mike Rouse, who sits on Redditch Borough Council, began collecting figures for the number of local cases as part of the Support Redditch website but was pressured into removing the map by some of his fellow councillors.

Despite being forced to remove the data, Cllr Rouse said he hoped Worcestershire County Council, who has abandoned publishing local figures due to changes in government policy on testing, as well as other county health authorities picked up on the idea for the future.

Cllr Rouse said he felt local data would be useful for the county to know more clearly where the virus is having the biggest impact and would also make the crisis clearer to residents.

“That is the point I am most anxious about. Why on earth does Public Health or the county council or the government not have a self-reporting system?” he said.

“I can understand the concern but who is going to make a false report really? Even if it was five per cent of people doing that, there are still 95 per cent of cases there that are genuine, and it would all be useful data.

“If several cases start appearing in a certain area, it would allow whoever to go and focus efforts within that area and go and do something about it.

“The cases could all be in Redditch, they could all be in Worcester, they could all be in Malvern, it would just be useful to know where they are. Now the low-level testing seems to have gone out the window, that is where the self-reporting comes in. It just gives somewhere where people can go.”

The Support Redditch website allowed people to self-report whether they had symptoms or had tested positive for coronavirus.

“Unfortunately, the minority of people said it was a bad idea,” he said. “The idea of the map was that if people are more aware of where the cases are, or where the people are saying they are showing symptoms, it would make them take the problem more seriously.

“If it makes people stay in their houses then that is good, that is a good idea, and that’s what we want. It became such an issue that the council was having to waste time dealing with the complaints and, to be honest, it has much more important things to do.”

A figure for the number of confirmed cases in Worcestershire is published daily by Public Health England. The hospital trust has also been announcing deaths related to the coronavirus.

Dr Kathryn Cobain, director of Public Health for Worcestershire, said: “Each day national figures for confirmed cases of Coronavirus, are released by Public Health England (PHE).

“These figures reflect the results of testing done in hospitals.

“PHE do not give information on the exact locations of the confirmed cases, to ensure patient confidentiality is maintained.

“Currently there is no community testing taking place, to ensure PHE can prioritise testing for the most vulnerable and in need. This means any figures shared only reflect cases in specific and limited settings.

“Worcestershire County Council does not receive a more detailed breakdown of those figures than what is available publicly on the PHE website.”

“I’d like to reassure people that we continue to track the virus in Worcestershire and we are working with health partners at a county, regional and national level to stop the virus spreading.

“Our main focus remains ensuring the people of Worcestershire are protected.

“We continue to urge everyone to stay home and save lives.

“Our Here2help service is available to anyone who has no-where to turn for help with shopping or non-emergency needs, and can be contacted by visiting worcestershire.gov.uk/here2help.”