SWINDONIANS are doing all they can to prevent a local Covid-19 lockdown, says the town's most senior public health official.

A spike in coronavirus cases saw the borough placed on the government's watchlist this month and sparked fears that local restrictions – such as those seen in Leicester and Blackburn – might be put in place.

Reports in the national media fanned the flames yesterday but director of public health Steve Maddern insists there is no reason to be alarmed – as long as the people of the town keep the outbreak under control.

His words came as the Great Western Hospital recorded its first two Covid-19 deaths in five weeks – taking the total number to 127.

In a Q&A streamed on the council's Facebook page, Mr Maddern said: “There are a number of categories for which you can be on the national watchlist – it’s the government identifying places which are a cause for concern.

“Swindon is on that list but not on the list for intervention. The government takes into account not only the number of cases, but also the things we’re doing to tackle Covid and the types of outbreaks we’re seeing.

“We feel we are doing everything locally we should be to protect the health of our residents.”

Asked how likely it would be that Swindon would see local restrictions, Mr Maddern said: “We have seen a peak of cases in Swindon over the last two or three weeks, but we are seeing those numbers of cases declining, which is very positive.

“Our overall case rate is reducing and that’s one thing the government looks at when making decisions on intervention."

Mr Maddern added local restrictions – whether it involved a few smaller areas or a borough-wide lockdown – would be a decision to be made between the council, Public Health England and the government.

He said: “It would be us asking for extra help if we felt the things we were doing weren’t working to bring cases down.

"At this moment I feel quite comfortable we don’t need any additional government intervention.”

Mr Maddern said the government had the power to intervene if it feels a council isn’t working effectively enough but added: “At this moment, we don’t feel that’s the case.”

He said the recent increase in cases had been seen in the central SN1 and SN2 postcodes.

“We are working very closely with the communities to make sure the necessary information is out there to remind people what they should do to protect themselves and their communities,” he said.

He said that included businesses and individuals, and added the local testing centre at the County Ground was aimed at making it easier for people in the central areas.

But he emphasised the council’s recently launched It’s Up to All of Us campaign and said measures such as wearing masks correctly, social distancing and frequent handwashing were the ways to tackle the pandemic and are "everyone’s responsibility."