With over 15 million now having received at least one dose of the vaccine our NHS vaccination programme has been nothing short of incredible. Well done to all the teams delivering this programme!
Our Director of Public Health is concerned that although the borough’s cases of infection are falling, there is still community transmission of the virus. As we are in lockdown it might be from those people who have to leave home to work. The strong advice now is that if you leave your house to go to work, please get a regular test. And that includes any essential voluntary work. We need you to get a test even if you don’t have symptoms, i.e. you are ‘asymptomatic’. That way we can identify the one in three people who have the virus, but don’t have any symptoms and may be unaware that they are spreading infection.
It means self-isolating, if you test positive, but we must prevent the virus passing on to customers, work colleagues or family and friends. You can get help to self-isolate here and financial support is available with over 60% of those applying having received funds.
The free tests are available for anyone who lives or works in Solihull, seven days a week, at either Tudor Grange Leisure Centre and North Solihull Leisure Centre. You will need to book an appointment to get one of these rapid COVID tests as no walk-in appointments are available. You can book here for a 20 minute appointment slot.
Following Monday’s announcement, a further 2,127 Solihull residents were added to the Shielding Group. This follows on from research by health scientists looking at who has got COVID and who is most at risk of a severe illness. There is now a much clearer picture of who is most at risk.
Across the UK 1.7m people have being added to the list, bringing the total to about 4m. Those affected will soon get a letter from the NHS explaining why they are being advised to shield. Our Adult Social Care team will also be looking into the implications for these extra 2,000 residents who will be encouraged to shield.
On another subject, I am glad to see our parks being well used, but one point, best take some hand sanitiser with you so you and your household can remain safe after touching any equipment or surfaces. Please also keep 2 metres distance wherever possible, and wash your hands when you return home.
In the coming weeks as the post-lockdown route plan becomes clearer, I am looking at plans to see how we can work closely with Solihull businesses across the borough to share good practice and ensure they can continue to maintain safe and COVID-secure workplaces, shops, cafés, pubs and other venues. We want to reassure people and ultimately help get the economy moving as we begin to ease out of this lockdown, but this is going to need great care and social distancing is not going away any time soon.
Finally, next week we will be asking you to consider the Council’s Green Paper on our Net Zero Action Plan. We are reaching out to you as residents and businesses to work with us to help develop a plan for reducing carbon emissions across the borough to net zero by 2041.
As a Council we intend to show it can be done by committing ourselves to a ‘net zero’ target for our own operations by 2030. But meeting the wider borough and regional targets will require collaboration across the public and private sectors, our industries and most importantly you.
This is a long term plan and we are taking our first steps on this long journey, I do hope you will join us and be part of the movement to tackle climate change.
Councillor Ian Courts, Leader of Solihull Council