22 October – Message from Solihull’s Director of Public Health, Ruth Tennant

Released:

This week has continued to see COVID rates increasing in most parts of the country, including right across the West Midlands and in Solihull - and we need to all take action - now. R – the rate the virus grows by – is now once again over 1.

In Solihull our latest daily rate has climbed to 483 per 100,000 or over a 1,000 new cases a week.  This affects the whole borough. This week Knowle is the highest at over 600 per 100k, increasing by 44%. 

When schools went back, cases went up in secondary aged pupils and we now also seeing increased cases in younger adults and over-60s.  Currently 11% of people getting tested are positive – another rising statistic.  

Our local NHS continues to feel the strain. Alongside COVID, other winter viruses are hitting us at a time when GPs and hospital are also getting on top of a backlog of physical and mental health issues from the pandemic.  

Although COVID will not have the same devastating impact as last year - because vaccination is working - we continue to hear devastating stories about what the virus can do to people who are not protected. Sickness absence also hits our business and workplaces.

Through the pandemic, our local mantra has been ‘do the right thing’: collective action is what keeps us all safe.

So we’re asking everyone to take some simple steps: the more people do these, the easier it will be to get R below 1.

  1. Get vaccinated. Find out how and when here: https://www.birminghamandsolihullcovidvaccine.nhs.uk/what-you-need-to-know/. Get a flu vaccine too. Remind friends and family.
  2. Wear a mask on public transport, crowded indoor spaces and in unventilated places.
  3. Hybrid working (mixture of home and office) if you can, when you can.
  4. Think ‘hands, face, space’: it works against COVID, flu and other winter viruses.
  5. Ventilation and fresh air work to blow viruses away. Keep air flowing.

The Government figures show that 25% of the positive tests come from people who are taking a test as a precautionary measure and don’t have symptoms, the people who could have passed on COVID unknowingly.

Some schools locally with high case numbers have been advised to put in place extra measures. If your child does test positive, close contacts at home or at school should get a PCR test straight away and take extra care around any vulnerable people.

We also want to see more people come forward for vaccination in the north of the borough where uptake is lowest and COVID rates are still high. Particularly as getting your jab couldn’t be easier. There are more opportunities for those aged 16+ and those now eligible for their booster vaccine to get their jab this weekend from an NHS mobile clinic:

Saturday 23 October at Asda Chelmsley Wood, 341 Bosworth Drive, B37 5EX, 10:00am to 4:00pm          

Sunday 24 October in Mell Square, Solihull, B91 3AY, 9:00am to 5:30pm              

If you have symptoms, get tested immediately and self-isolate while awaiting your result and, of course, if you test positive, it’s absolutely vital you self-isolate for 10 days.  

You may have seen press reports about issues with one laboratory but this should absolutely not stop people getting tested.  Do take the time to make it part of your weekly routine.

Follow all public health advice at local events.  Some places may ask for proof of vaccination as the best way to protect other people. This is not compulsory but is a sensible step to reduce the risk of COVID spreading in crowded spaces.

Have confidence in the vaccine. It is possible to get COVID and pass it on when you’ve been vaccinated but, as figures for hospital admissions and COVID-related deaths show very clearly, vaccination works.

Boosters are now rolling out - and this is vital for people who are most likely to get very ill with COVID, to give extra protection on top of your first two doses. 

Give consent for your teens to be vaccinated at school or at a mass vaccination centre (if applicable).

It’s great to hear that 81% of Premier League footballers are now vaccinated, showing that people with access to the facts from well-informed health professionals making that positive choice.

It remains our number one way to get cases down, reduce disruption and have the best chance of a normal festive season. 

More than 84.5% people in Solihull aged 16+ have now had their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, 79.5% have received two doses and 20.2% have received the booster. Some 10.5% of 12-15 year olds have received their first dose.

This is a huge number of people who have chosen to do the right thing. Just this week, over 1,000 people in Birmingham and Solihull came forward for their first dose. It’s never too late.

Seizing control of what we do, where we go and taking a few simple steps to slow COVID now will give us all the best chance of reducing the risk that we need Plan B.

Ruth Tennant
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.