The very rapid increase in our local COVID rates shows clearly why a new national lockdown – although very hard – is necessary. Our most recent rates shows that we have climbed very rapidly to a rate of 408 per 100k. The proportion of people who are testing positive has also gone up quickly to 14.5%. This is the highest we have seen at any point in the pandemic with rises in every single part of the borough.
Over December, 2,326 people tested positive for COVID and we expect these figures to rise as the ‘Christmas Bubble’ infections begin to come through the system. Apart from the human tragedy of more of our residents getting ill and inevitably more dying, there is extreme pressure on the NHS which is set to get worse as new cases continue to climb.
We can do nothing about those already infected but lockdown will help us to really get a grip of this increase. This is particularly important now we know the new COVID variant is much more easily transmitted from person to person than previous versions in circulation.
We can play our part by sticking rigidly to the rules while more and more people get vaccinated. We have to keep social interaction to the bare minimum: this is absolutely essential and is the best way to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe.
We must continue with the hands, face, space rules, but our best defence is don’t mix with other people. Please don’t help the virus spread by letting your guard down. Always imagine the person next to you has the virus and act accordingly. Take extra care when you do need to go out for essential reasons such as shopping for food and be respectful of people’s space to keep each other safe.
Despite the rising infections and the pressure on the NHS, even at this most difficult time we can see a route through this pandemic. We have two safe and effective vaccines and these are being rapidly rolled out locally.
You may have heard that the second dose of the vaccine has been delayed: this is on very good public health grounds so that more people can be given the first dose allowing a larger number of people to be partially protected. This has been strongly advised by the UK’s Chief Medical Officers and will be followed by our local NHS vaccination teams. They say that the evidence shows that one dose still offers a high level of protection, allowing the maximum benefit for the most people in the shortest possible time. Getting both doses remains important so do return for your second jab when requested.
Do get vaccinated when you are offered the opportunity and also please encourage family and friends to have it too. The vaccine is being rolled out as quickly as possible, starting with the highest priority groups. If you are eligible, you will be contacted when it’s your turn.
As ever, this is a difficult time for everyone so please take care of yourselves and each other. If you are struggling there are lots of places you can call for support such as here from Birmingham and Solihull Clinical Commissioning Group.
Director of Public Health, Solihull Council