Steve Maddern, Director of Public Health, wants this to be Swindon's last lockdown and wants us all to stay strong. He sent out the below statement giving us an update on the exact state of play in Swindon.
The Prime Minister made two important comments earlier this week:
“We want this lockdown to be the last. And we want progress to be cautious but also irreversible.”
Mr Johnson added: “Although the vaccination programme is going well, we still don’t have enough data about the exact effectiveness of the vaccines in reducing the spread of infection.”
This provides important context ahead of next Monday (22 February) when the Prime Minister will set out a roadmap for the gradual easing of national lockdown restrictions, focusing on “data and not dates”.
Although we continue to see the case rate and number of COVID-19 hospital patients decline, we should remember this is relative to the peak spike we saw in January. Around 20,100 COVID-19 patients are currently in hospital across the UK – which is only slightly lower than at the first peak last April.
We have all made huge sacrifices and don’t want to see these hard-won gains squandered, slipping back to where we were. This is a complex, evolving situation where the vaccine will play a critical part, but we are still learning about its effectiveness.
By the end of April, the Government aims to have administered a first dose of the vaccine to people in the 9 most at-risk groups, with estimated coverage of around 27 million people in England and 32 million people across the UK. These at-risk groups account for around 99 per cent of all deaths from COVID-19 to date.
Even when people in these groups have received their vaccination, they still need to follow the restrictions that are in place and the ‘Hands. Face. Space.’ measures along with everyone else. It’s up to all of us to make this national lockdown our last.
As of Friday (19 Feb), Swindon has seen 203 new COVID-19 cases in the last seven days, down from 260 new cases last Friday (12 February).
As of Friday (19 Feb), Swindon's seven-day rolling average case rate was 91 per 100k, the national case rate was 129 per 100k and 84 per 100k in the South West.
This week, 14 people have sadly passed away within 28 days of a positive test for COVID-19 bringing the total number of deaths in Swindon to 250.
It was announced this week that the shielding programme has been extended until 31 March. The University of Oxford also published new modelling data which identified an additional 4,493 residents in the Borough who may be at increased risk of becoming seriously unwell from coronavirus.
Factors such as ethnicity, body mass index and underlying health issues were taken into account.
Letters to those additional residents outlining the support available to them have been sent out today.
If you have been asked to shield, you should not leave your home for work, to go shopping or to pick up prescriptions but you can leave your home to exercise outdoors. Find out more about shielding here.
If you are classed as clinically extremely vulnerable you can also apply for free vitamin D supplements.
This week, 46,000 vaccinations have been administered across the Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire area.
The NHS is now inviting those aged over 65 and the clinically vulnerable people aged between 16 and 64 with underlying health conditions to have their COVID vaccine. Adult carers are also being invited to receive their vaccines.
Sixty-two per cent of those aged 65-69 have already had their first dose. If you are aged 65 and over, you can book your vaccine without an invitation from your GP through the National Booking service, or by calling 119.
On Monday (15 Feb) we began symptom-free testing for all early year practitioners, carers and some front-line council staff.
One in three people with COVID-19 don't have any symptoms but can still pass it on. Symptom-free testing will help us to identify workers who are not displaying symptoms, in order to break chains of transmission in the community.
People who are currently eligible for this symptom-free testing are being directly contacted to book their tests and we hope to roll out testing further as more sites open over the coming weeks.