Coronavirus latest: Luton in top 20 worst hit authorities but new cases are 'declining'
Luton is back in the top 20 worst hit local authorities for Covid-19 cases but the overall numbers are declining in the town, a meeting heard.
The case rate has fallen significantly since December, the council's scrutiny health and social review group was told.
"Today we're at 174 cases per 100,000, which is a really much improved position," said director of public health, Lucy Hubber.
"Our positivity rate, which was in the mid-20s per cent, has now fallen to 6.5 per cent.
"That means for every 100 people tested - six or seven people are positive, which is still higher than we'd want it to be.
"I'd really like to see that fall below 3 per cent. We would then have a manageable amount of transmission within the community."
Labour South councillor David Agbley, chairman of the group, asked whether anything more could be done if the positivity rate remains too high.
Ms Hubber replied: "We know from our recent Cabinet Office visit that we're doing everything and we're doing it right.
"Wearing a face mask, washing your hands regularly and keeping your distance are going to remain absolutely critical.
"As lockdown is lifted, things will be done in a Covid-secure way. We can't relax now. We're moving in the right direction.
"But if we take our eye off the ball, that high positivity rate means those cases may well rise again."
Chief executive of Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, David Carter said: "The number of Covid patients in the Luton & Dunstable Hospital is 44, which is a significant decrease from even a few weeks ago.
"On February 15, we had about 100. We've currently six patients in critical care and no deaths for the last six days, which is significant."
Conservative Icknield councillor Jeff Petts referred to Luton moving "back to 20th in the country, one of the highest areas of concern".
The director of public health said: "If you look at the areas in the list there are some very common factors.
"Covid disproportionately affects places where there are high levels of deprivation.
"It also thrives where there are large numbers of people with underlying health conditions.
"That's why we had a high number of cases which was very challenging to cut down.
"The majority of those places in the list have those similar demographics to Luton."
Labour Limbury councillor Rob Roche asked about the positivity rates in neighbouring areas.
She replied: "It's 116 per 100,000 in Milton Keynes, 111 in Bedford, and it's very low in Central Bedfordshire on 79.
"There's absolutely no suggestion anyone else is doing something right and we're not. We've had that externally assessed.
"The significant news this week is the offer of collecting home rapid tests from a number of settings, including our standard testing sites, Bury Park, Hockwell Ring and Vicarage Street.
"We're applying for our rapid testing stations to be distribution sites," she added.
"What's important is participation and getting tested twice a week."