Stockport’s Director of Public Health, Jennifer Connolly, has highlighted the continued need to adhere to ongoing restrictions in light of new, more transmissible virus variants, despite falling infection rates in the borough.
The new strain of the virus, which emerged in South-East England last autumn and is up to 70% more infectious than other strains, now accounts for 85% of cases in Stockport. However, infection rates have continued to decline in Stockport and now stand at 200.1 per 100,000 with around 83.9 new cases each day (These are the latest figures for Stockport validated on 12/2/21). The latest published data can be found on the GOV website.
In her latest weekly statement, Jennifer Connolly explained some of the risks that new virus variants around the around can pose, and she reinforced the importance of social distancing and adherence to the ongoing national lockdown restrictions.
You may have heard a lot recently about new variants of Covid. Viruses do change over time and mutate, and this is to be expected. Across the country there are several different variants already known to us including the original strain, as well as the UK , South African, Brazilian and Japanese variants. The UK strain is 50-70% more infectious than previously and is now estimated to account for around 85% of cases in Stockport. As this variant is more readily spread, we must be even more strict about the actions we know work to stop the spread.
This week parts of Manchester were found to have a very small number of cases of a new mutation of the Kent variant circulating. We don’t yet fully know what effect all the different variants will have on the severity of the disease or the ability to evade vaccines, so it’s right that we take them seriously to understand the spread. Though there is no suggestion that this has reached Stockport yet, this highlights how important it is for us to continue to maintain our behaviour changes around stemming the spread of the virus. The best way to limit the development and spread of new variants is to reduce the number of new infections occurring. We must still take actions that stop the virus spreading really seriously to protect ourselves and each other.
Everything we do to keep rates heading down is protecting each other and our loved ones, so a huge thank to each and every one of you for as you as continue to follow the lockdown restrictions. You have the opportunity to stop the infection getting to someone who is vulnerable, by these everyday steps you are taking to break chains of transmission and not let the virus spread. Let’s dig deep, keep the momentum going and not allow complacency to set in.
Follow guidance around social distancing (two metres), wear face coverings (unless exempt) and wash or sanitising hands regularly. Do not enter enclosed spaces without a mask (unless exempt). Stay in well ventilated places – if you’re inside 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.
If you act like you’ve got it, and act like others have got it, this can really help us stay focussed on our actions. Be really aware of following these steps to limit spread wherever you are, including at work if you can’t work from home. With half-term coming up next week, please remember to stay local and stick to the guidance covered in this statement, as unfortunately Covid doesn’t take a break at half-term.
We know this can all be tough on your mental health and wellbeing, 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.
One key step 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.
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.
Our vaccination rollout is also progressing really well, accelerating at pace in Stockport and we have now vaccinated more than 70,000 people with their first dose. As the programme is expanded to include more people, please take up the offer. You will receive an invite from the NHS so please do not call in the meantime. Further information about the priority groups can be found on the Vaccinations page.
Once you have had the vaccination, please be mindful that you can still catch or spread Covid, even if protected against the worst effects of the virus. It will take time for antibodies to develop in your immune system, so you will not be fully protected yet.
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.