After several weeks of seeing our rates fall as a result of lockdown we are now seeing clear evidence that COVID is on the rise again. We are at 153 per 100,000, with 330 new cases in the week to 7 December, compared with an average rate of 134 in England. Sadly, we know that another 14 people died in the most recent week we have information for.
We are particularly worried by an increase in rates in the over 60s as well as rising rates in the 30-44 age group. This is not a good position to be in as we move into Christmas, and this week we have seen outbreaks in care homes and schools plus cases in retail.
It is clear that across many parts of the country – including Solihull – the numbers are going in the wrong direction. After a period of falling infections, hospitalisations and deaths, we are now seeing all of these rising again with very sustained pressure on the NHS.
We are running out of time to get on top of this and are risking a major increase in cases in the run up to Christmas. If people then meet in family groups during the five-day bubble period, there is an even bigger risk of the virus passing between family members. This will lead to more cases, more hospitalisations and more deaths, all at a time when the vaccine roll out is underway and there is light at the end of the tunnel.
We really need a huge push from everyone to get on top of this
- Think carefully whether a Christmas extended bubble is a good idea and plan this very carefully. If you are in an enclosed space with poor ventilation and a group of people, you are at risk. Think ‘should I do it’ not ‘can I do it’?
- Act like the person next to you has COVID. People may be asymptomatic or may not be following self-isolation rules.
- All retailers must put in place the toughest possible measures to reduce the number of people in store and to keep people 2m apart at all times. If you don’t feel safe in a shop, don’t go in. Take your business to a store that you feel confident in.
- If you have any symptoms, you must get tested straight away. Don’t go out before you get tested and don’t go out while you are waiting for test results. If you do and you are positive, you will spread COVID to other people.
- Self-isolate for the full 10 days if you have COVID or are a close contact. Do not leave your house even if you feel well. If you need help, ask for it or check the local help on offer on our website.
- Be aware what a big risk we are facing now. The virus is not stopping for Christmas. It is as dangerous now as it was in March.
- Be honest about what you are doing, who you are seeing and how much you are out and about. If you catch COVID now, you will pass it to your family over Christmas.
Please do everything you can to reduce social mixing even further and if possible think about having a ‘lockdown’ Christmas this December. We could then plan to have a proper celebration with family and friends next year, when our vulnerable, and many more in society, will have had one of the vaccines and our R rate is back under control.
Testing and self-isolating stops the spread of the virus and helps keep everyone else safe
The regional test centre at the airport and our mobile test unit at Monkspath Hall Road have availability and can be booked online or via 119 if you have symptoms.
As part of plans to expand community testing we are opening up new local test centres which are now starting to go live for people who live or work in Solihull. Check out our website for more information on how to book into one of these as well as for information about the nationally run testing sites.
Do think about the risks when you plan your festive arrangements. If you do decide to form a bubble this Christmas follow the Germ Defence guidance, keep the house well ventilated and reduce the time spent together to a minimum in order to keep any older family members and friends, especially those with underlying health conditions, as safe as possible.