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17 November, Message from Ruth Tennant, Solihull’s Director of Public Health

In the last week (4 – 10 November) our local COVID case numbers have increased by 21%, with 697 new cases in Solihull. Our local rate is now 322.1 cases per 100,000 people while the average area in England is 196.  And sadly, another seven Solihull residents died from COVID last week.

Our rates have continued to rise, although less sharply than some parts of the region. We need to do everything we can during the lockdown to stop the virus spreading. The current reduction in social interaction will help with this and I hope to see the figures begin to fall. However, if they don’t, it could well mean tighter restrictions having to continue post lockdown.

Our route out of COVID will not come from one single magic bullet but a whole series of measures and by people continuing to do the right thing for Solihull. 

Testing will continue to be key to understanding the spread of the virus and identifying those who are infected. Our local testing rates are good and have increased as result of our drop and collect pilot and also people continuing to go for tests when they have symptoms.

Rapid testing, which is being introduced across the country, will further help us to get testing where it is needed so we can make sure people take the right action to self-isolate, swiftly. This will really help stop the virus in its tracks.

But we have to remember negative tests are not an ‘all clear’, just a snapshot.  Someone getting a negative test one day could then be infected and test positive the next. Also with more testing comes the added responsibility for people to self-isolate and stay at home if they get a positive test.

It is now a legal requirement to self-isolate and there is financial and other support available to help people to do this – further information about what help is available here. If you do get COVID, our team will be in contact to make sure you know what help is out there.

I mentioned last week that COVID is increasingly spreading into the over 60s age group where we have seen an 11% increase in cases in the last seven days. Our rate in this age group is now 232 per 100,000.  Now, more than ever, if you are over 60, live with someone who is vulnerable, or are a student returning home for the holidays in the next few weeks there are simple steps you can take to reduce the risk by following ‘Germ Defence’.

We have produced two posters that show just how transmission occurs.  They illustrate how the virus can spread in respiratory droplets throughout an enclosed space and remain in the air for many hours, more information here.

Vaccination, once it’s ready and rolled out to help us to step down restrictions. This must go hand in hand with relentless testing, everyone undertaking Germ Defence and continuing to do the right thing to help us to get out of this pandemic.

We are already planning for the possible outcomes of the government review of the lockdown and will be prepared for whatever level of restrictions we will need to follow to keep COVID rates down. As the nights draw in and we remain in lockdown, please remember to reach out to family, friends and neighbours. We may not be able to see them in person, but telephone and video calls can still offer much needed support and conversation. 

Stick with it Solihull.

Lots of useful information about COVID locally can be found here . We will keep this updated regularly.

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