One year on from the first confirmed coronavirus case in Stockport, Director for Public Health Jennifer Connolly warns of the need for continued caution to keep infection rates low as schools reopen fully.
From today (8th March), schools across England have reopened for face-to-face teaching to all pupils, and people can begin meeting one other person from a different household outdoors.
Jennifer Connolly said:
Monday, 8 March, will also see the first steps on the Government’s roadmap for coming out of lockdown. From then you will be able to meet one other person socially in the outdoors and children will be going back to school for face-to-face teaching. Further information on the roadmap can be found here. However, we cannot see this as a free for all. As restrictions are eased over the coming months, we need to balance the risk, as any increase in mixing will inevitably increase the risk of the infection spreading and mutating, especially as the Kent variant, which is 50-70% more infectious than previously, is now estimated to account for around 98% of cases in Stockport. The more we stick to rules now the more likely we are to be able to meet the threshold required to meet the government’s data targets for the roadmap out of lockdown. So, please do continue to stay at home as much as possible and work from home if able.
“We must keep using the action that stop the virus transmitting in order to protect ourselves and each other. Remember the importance of keeping socially distanced (two metres), hand washing and wearing face coverings. Do not enter enclosed spaces without a mask (unless exempt). Do things outdoors where possible, and keep indoor places well ventilated – this means having the windows open for at least 15/20 minute every hour. This will all help to keep you and others safe. Further information on reducing the risk of transmission can be found here.
“Key to breaking the chains of transmission is self-isolating. If you have a new continuous cough, high temperature, or a change or loss of smell/taste – however mild, stay at home and book a test via GOV.UK or by phoning 119. You and your household members must self-isolate while you await your results. If found positive, stay home for 10 days. Household members must stay at home for 10 days. Minimise transmission within your home by staggering use of the bathroom, giving each person their own towel, and keeping kitchens and bathrooms clean.
“If told to self-isolate through the NHS Covid 19 app you must follow the instruction.”
She also set out the current case rates in the borough, which have steadily been declining throughout lockdown:
We must keep going, as the virus is still very much circulating within Stockport. Rates have begun to decline again; they are still at *95.1 per 100,000 and we are also seeing around *40 new cases each day. While bed occupancy for those most seriously affected by Coronavirus has declined at Stepping Hill Hospital to rates last seen in October, there is still pressure on our NHS and the figures are still much higher than those seen in the summer. The latest published data can be found here.”
Jennifer Connolly also recognised to the toll on mental health that the continued restrictions may be having after almost a year of measures being in place to curb the spread of the virus. She set out some of the support services available in Stockport for anyone who may be finding things difficult:
This week has marked the one-year anniversary of the first case of Coronavirus being recorded in Stockport. It has been a very challenging year for our community, with many of you making huge sacrifices in not seeing your loved ones and friends, your working lives and we are all having to pull together to get through. It’s hard not to feel despondent and we know this can all be tough on your mental health and wellbeing during these unsettling, unprecedented times. So please remember that if you’re finding things difficult right now, we have lots of offers of help and support, so please do reach out. We’ve listed them all here. For further information on how you might look after yourself, please visit our Health and Wellbeing pages or Healthy Stockport.
“If you need support, the council’s Coronavirus helpline and website can be accessed on 0161 217 6046 from Monday – Thursday from 9.00am – 5pm and Friday from 9.00am – 4:30pm. If you’re deaf or have difficulty hearing, you can use our textphone on 07860 022 876. Find out more by visiting our helpline page.”
While restrictions remain in place, the vaccine roll-out in Stockport met the 100,000 milestone last week and offers a route out of continued measures. Jennifer Connolly thanked Stockport residents who have come forward to receive their vaccinations; she said:
This week we also reached a hugely positive milestone having vaccinated more than 100,000 people with their first Covid vaccine in Stockport. Congratulations to Michelle Conway, 42, a hairdresser from Bredbury, who was lucky patient 100,000 and who, by making history in Stockport, has contributed to helping keep all of the community safe and well. Thank you to each and every person who has come forward to have their vaccination. Cohorts 5,6 and 7 – all those 60 years of age and over and all individuals aged 16 years to 64 years with underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of serious disease and mortality are now being called for their vaccination. If you fall within one of the existing priority groups, you will receive an invite from the NHS for your vaccination; there is no need to ring your doctor as you will be contacted. If you have already received an invitation but didn’t receive your vaccination, but have now changed your mind or are clinically extremely vulnerable, an eligible frontline health or social care worker, have a condition that puts you at higher risk (clinically vulnerable) or are a main carer for someone at high risk from coronavirus , please call your GP to arrange an invitation or book though the national booking system by calling 119 or online here. We know that people will have questions about the vaccines that are currently available and this FAQ has been prepared to help to answer these queries here.”
*This is the latest figure for Stockport validated on 5.3.21.