We’ve had some good news with the announcement of a vaccine for COVID. This is really positive. But there’s a long way to go before this can be rolled out and it’s clear that this won’t get us out of the second wave that we are in now.
In the last week our local COVID numbers have increased by 14%, with 533 new cases in Solihull in the latest week. Our local rate is 272 cases per 100,000 people while the average area in England is 167. Back in September, when additional restrictions came into play in Solihull our rates were 64 per 100,000. This just shows how much COVID has taken off over the Autumn.
Sadly four Solihull residents died from COVID last week and we’re really concerned by the 15% increase in cases in the over 65s who are most likely to be hit hardest by the virus. Our hotspots for infection and transmission of the virus are unsurprisingly our more densely populated areas, but all parts of the borough are affected.
Once again, the virus is having a huge impact on our NHS. There has been a big increase in patients admitted to University Hospitals Birmingham with COVID. Unfortunately, we are now seeing significant numbers who need intensive care. Although we have learned more about how to treat patients with COVID, it is still a very serious and in some cases deadly illness.
This lockdown is different to back in March. First time round, virtually everything shut down and the rules were clear. This time, after eight months, it’s a balancing act between keeping essential retail and service sector, schools and education going – all of which are important – and doing everything we can to keep the number of cases down, and doing this fast.
The lockdown allows us to go out, but only if we really have to. It allows some retail and service sector businesses to keep going, but only if it’s essential and with very clear precautions in place. The more you go out and the more you do, even if it’s within the lockdown rules, the more opportunities you create for the virus to spread. People can be infectious before they have symptoms so if you’re out and about, you’re at risk.
The other way we can stop the spread is to stay at home if you have symptoms. Get tested and self-isolate. Self-isolation stops the virus in its tracks. We will contact you to see if you need any support, help you to understand the self-isolation rules and to check if you’re eligible for the £500 support which is available to people on low incomes.
Our recent ‘drop and collect’ pilot in Chelmsley Wood has now finished. We tested over 1,000 people, taking tests from door to door with help from national and local volunteers. The testing will help us to understand how the virus is spreading and we also heard from lots of residents about the impact of COVID on them and what they think of testing.
We would like to thank everyone who was involved: it will all help to improve how we tackle this virus. There are big changes coming through around testing including new rapid testing and we’ll be looking at how these might be used locally.
Our drive through Mobile Testing Unit (MTU) in Monkspath Hall Road car park, near Solihull town centre, will remain open until 30 November. If you have Covid-19 symptoms: a high temperature, a new continuous cough or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste, book a test with the national NHS booking system or call 119. Please don’t turn up without a booking.
This is a long hard road and I’d like to thank everyone who’s helping to support friends, colleagues and people in their area to deal with COVID. More than ever, we all need to look out for each other.