COVID cases still remain high in Solihull with 802 new people testing positive over the past week. The good news is that rates are clearly falling and have dipped below 400 per 100,000 to 368.8 this week, down 14%.
The vaccination programme is making the difference: keeping up progress with this and everyone taking sensible steps to reduce the risk of spreading COVID now needs to be our focus.
So far in Solihull 147,585 people have been double-jabbed (80% of all 16 and over), while 38,189 have had their booster – that’s 64.7% of everyone who is eligible, remembering that not all of those eligible will have yet reached their six-month mark! The vaccinations have been by GP invitation or via the National Booking Service.
As we head into winter and other viruses start to circulate, including flu, the NHS continues to be under extreme pressure. So although the number of people in hospital and intensive care is falling, COVID continues to affect the NHS.
Every intensive care bed taken up by a COVID patient reduces capacity to do all the complex elective surgery that has been put on hold for the past year or so. Also, staffing absences due to COVID are placing a further burden on the NHS and care sector in general.
What can we all do to keep well and to help the NHS?
The simple answer is to get vaccinated as soon as possible – both for COVID and flu.
Vaccines are the best protection for most people - COVID is less likely to be a severe illness but people who are double vaccinated may still have symptoms that prevent them from working or doing other day to day activities.
With cases of COVID-19 still high and Christmas just around the corner, it’s really important that everyone heads into winter fully protected. That means getting your vaccine if you haven’t had it yet and for those who are eligible, getting the booster one too.
Encourage your family, friends and neighbours to get their jabs and that includes the flu jab, as soon as they can. Let’s make sure none of us miss out on Christmas this year.
There are walk-in clinics around the Birmingham and Solihull area. You can find out where here. Many GP practices are also offering vaccinations directly to patients registered with them.
There are some other simple things that we can all do to keep ourselves and loved ones safe.
Ventilation – there’s growing evidence that simply opening a window for just 10 minutes every hour when socialising with others can reduce the chance of spreading or catching the virus. The simple message is, Stop COVID-19 hanging around - Open the window!
Refreshing the air in your home when you have visitors is really important, as this can blow virus particles away and can help to keep infections down.
Mask-wearing – I advise you to wear a mask in busy indoor spaces where people are congregating in larger numbers or on public transport. The science on this has just been updated and shows clearly that masks can make a difference.
Download the NHS COVID-19 app (slightly different to the NHS app) - Please use the app when you visit places and attend meetings so that if you are in contact with a case you can be alerted and can get tested to check if you have COVID.
Testing – Keep testing regularly. Use the lateral flow devices, particularly if you are out and about or attending meetings. Testing is the best way of checking if you have COVID so you don’t pass it onto other people. PCR testing is recommended for people who have been in contact with a COVID case as well as to confirm a positive lateral flow device (LFD) test result.
Finally, keep thinking hands, face, space and fresh air - it works against COVID, flu and other winter viruses.
Director of Public Health, Solihull Council
Below are useful links to find out where you can get a vaccine, how to book, and how to get a test.
- Birmingham & Solihull NHS COVID-19 Vaccination Service – Birmingham & Solihull NHS COVID-19 Vaccination Service (birminghamandsolihullcovidvaccine.nhs.uk)
- What you need to know – Birmingham & Solihull NHS COVID-19 Vaccination Service (birminghamandsolihullcovidvaccine.nhs.uk)
- The NHS is also contacting people to bring forward second vaccination appointments, or rebook yourself on the National Booking Service.
- To get a test there are options to suit everyone, find a walk in site and ask for an assisted test, collect a kit to test at home, order online for free home delivery or get a 'collect code' and pick up a pack from participating local pharmacies.
- If you should get a positive rapid test result it’s vital to get a confirmatory PCR test within 48 hours. Check the Covid-19 mobile testing unit timetable here or book via the national PCR test booking system.
- Full government guidance on new rules around self-isolation is here.
- For the latest information see Coronavirus (Covid-19) latest information | solihull.gov.uk