Our COVID infection figures are at last starting to see a significant reduction, down approximately 29%, thanks to your efforts in following the lockdown rules. We are now down to 353 infections per 100,000 with new cases falling to 778 each week in Solihull, and 16 of the borough’s 17 wards seeing a decrease.
This is great news, but it means it is even more important that we continue to stick to the current restrictions to keep driving our numbers down. 353 infections per 100,000 people seems better than the over 550 we were experiencing only a few weeks ago, but in early December it was only 153 and in August it was 12.
The decrease is welcome, but it is at a much slower rate than last year. We know our hospitals are still full of severely ill COVID patients and while the numbers are stable, there is still huge pressure on our local NHS colleagues.
COVID can easily spread without people knowing they have it. This week, around 2% of people coming to our new testing centres have tested positive: these are all people who did not have symptoms and so did not know that they might be infectious. By testing, they have been able to do the right thing and help stop the spread to customers, co-workers or their family.
If you have to go out and about to work this free rapid, regular testing can be booked on-line. Tests need to be booked in advance at the following venues: Newington Resource Centre, Tudor Grange Leisure Centre and Roundmead Day Centre.
Please pass this on to anyone you know who might be interested. It’s open to a very wide range of people so if you can’t work from home or you’re out and about volunteering, do get tested. Testing every 3-5 days is the best way to find cases in people who might not know they have it.
The NHS vaccine programme continues to accelerate. In Solihull 92% of those aged 80+ and 15.5% of the total population have received their first dose of the vaccine. Across the UK nearly 600,000 people a day are now getting their first jab, and ten million have now had this protective treatment. Remember that even if you have been vaccinated, you won’t be protected for several weeks so it’s important to stick with hands, face and space.
From what we know about current cases, households remain the most common place for people to get COVID. So if you have any of the symptoms get tested and self-isolate away from other members of the household. The Germ Defence advice will help you keep you and your household safe.
I recognise trying to keep good mental health during this pandemic has been difficult and business owners have had extra stresses and strains to deal with. They’ve had to navigate the various restrictions and some are dealing with incredible financial and staffing issues.
To help business owners two Mental Health webinars have been organised by the Council using its allocation from the European Regional Development Fund‘s £50 million ‘Reopening High Streets Safely Fund’. Councils across England are using the funding to support the safe reopening of high streets and other commercial areas.
The last webinar is ‘live’ on 10 February. They will be recorded and hosted on this platform for people to view at any time after the event.
We still have a long way to go, please don’t relax now. Keep doing the right thing for you, your household, your family and friends and for Solihull. Stay home, protect the NHS and save lives.