Relaxing of restrictions, combined with some seasonal summer weather may have made people think coronavirus is behind us - but I’m afraid it’s not.
I have to give a reality check today and remind everyone Covid-19 is still very much with us and cases are on the rise again here in Solihull.
Both locally and regionally we are seeing a rapid increase in the spread of the new Delta variant with 91 new COVID cases (31 May- 6 June) or rate of 42 per 100,000, up from 12 in mid-May.
Seeing numbers going up like this obviously raises serious concerns and we need to make sure we maintain our guard.
Vaccination remains our route out of the pandemic and is being made available to more people. Remember both doses are crucial to protect against this new Delta strain and given this rise, it is really important to maintain all our protective measures against COVID both at work and when out and about.
I would urge you to get your jab as soon as it is offered or in the case of those aged 25 and over to use the national online booking system to get an appointment as soon as is possible. It’s vital everyone gets their second dose as well, so don’t delay, make getting both doses a personal priority.
The Delta variant, which has been dominating the news, is currently worst among the 17-20 year-old age group, most of whom will not yet have had the vaccine.
Vaccinations are now being offered to more young people, so do check to see if you are now eligible and that you know how to book your jab. Everything you need to know is on the government website including details of your nearest vaccination centre.
But many people who eventually test positive have had no symptoms and are unwittingly spreading the virus. Testing is something we can all do to keep our friends, family and wider community safe. I would urge everyone to get tested regularly.
We should all be testing twice a week with rapid lateral flow tests - whether we have had one or even both vaccination doses - to make sure we’re not passing the virus on without knowing.
Rapid tests are easily available at our community test sites in Chelmlsey Wood next to the bus interchange and Solihull High Street next to Halifax Bank, where you can have an assisted test there and then or pick up a test to do at home.
I know people are now making plans to meet up - maybe to watch the football with friends? But we need to keep our eye on the ball and remember all the protective measures are still vital. We’ve launched a ‘Keep your eye on the ball’ campaign during the EURO 2020 to encourage people to play safe, stick to hands, face, space and fresh air and get tested.
Make testing part of your routine and if you do test positive, confirm the result with a second PCR test within 48 hours, via the national booking system. You and close contacts should self-isolate until you get the test.
Keep an eye on the website for the Covid-19 mobile testing unit schedule this week. We are making sure the van visits areas where rates are higher. You can check its timetable here.
Finally, to remind people, if you do get COVID, (a high temperature, a new continuous cough or you’ve lost your sense of smell or taste or it’s changed), you must self-isolate and get a PCR test immediately as you can spread the virus if you do not self-isolate.
There is financial, practical and emotional support to help anyone who needs it, to make it as easy as possible for you to self-isolate with everyone in your household for the full 10 days, so you can keep yourself, your family and your community safe.
Hospitals, A&E and emergency departments are currently under significant pressure, as is general practice. If you think you need A&E, just contact NHS 111 first, who will help you right away. If you do need urgent care, NHS 111 can book you in to be seen quickly and safely.
For the latest information see Coronavirus (Covid-19) latest information | solihull.gov.uk
Ruth Tennant, Director of Public Health