Update from Steve Maddern, Director of Public Health
As of today (26 February), Swindon unfortunately has the highest rate of COVID-19 in the South West region.
The case rate exceeds both the regional and national average. The main reason for this is likely to be mixing between households and non-compliance with rules.
Swindon’s seven-day rolling average case rate has increased to 123.8 per 100k - up from 91 per 100k last Friday (19 Feb), compared to an average across the South West of 66.0 per 100k and the England average of 111.8 per 100k.
So while the Government set out a roadmap for easing lockdown restrictions this week, we first need to shift the car out of reverse.
The increase in Swindon’s case rate show how fragile our hard-won progress is.
The UK-wide COVID-19 Alert Level is moving from Level 5 to Level 4. This means that cases, hospital pressures and deaths remain high, but the threat of health services being overwhelmed within 21 days has decreased.
Seeing the people you love and getting back to the things you miss can only happen if we see this through. England is still in a national lockdown. We must stay at home, leaving only where permitted by law, and follow the rules to protect you and others.
Swindon: It's up to all of us to make this lockdown our last.
As of today (26 February), Swindon has seen 275 new COVID-19 cases in the last seven days, up from 203 new cases last Friday (19 February).
As of today (26 February), Swindon's seven-day rolling average case rate was 123.8 per 100,000, up from 91 last Friday (19 February). The national case rate is currently 111.8 per 100k and 66.0 per 100k in the South West.
This week, 7 people have sadly passed away within 28 days of a positive test for COVID-19 bringing the total number of deaths in Swindon to 257.
On Monday (22 Feb), the Government set out their roadmap to gradually ease the current lockdown restrictions from 8 March. Take five minutes to watch the explainer video above and make sure you fully understand what must happen before we can resume normal life.
Primary school children, secondary school pupils and college students, as well as university students on practical courses who need access to specialist facilities and equipment, will all return from 8 March.
We are working closely with our education settings to make sure all pupils and staff are safe through social distancing measures, continuing with the 'Hands. Face. Space' guidance alongside regular COVID-19 testing for all staff, and newly introduced testing for secondary school aged pupils:
pre-school staff at PVI settings, nursery school, primary school, secondary school and college staff will be provided with two tests to use each week at home
symptom-free testing is available to all childminders at Waterside Park, Foundation Park and Park South Community Centre
secondary school and college students will take three COVID-19 tests on-site as they return from 8 March, and students will be provided with two rapid tests to use each week at home
schools and colleges will have discretion on how to phase the return of their students over that week to allow them to be tested on return
All testing is voluntary and for some children and young people it is recognised that testing would not be appropriate.
Any parents or carers who would like more information about the safety measures in place should speak to their school or education setting for more information.
Symptom-free testing programme expanded in Swindon
We have been listening to your views and this week have expanded our symptom-free testing programme to include evening and weekend appointments at our new testing site in Park South Community Centre.
We know how important it is to offer accessible appointments to our eligible workers and will be assessing our opening hours further as testing capacity increases.
More of Swindon’s critical workers have now been invited to book a symptom-free test, including small businesses with 50 employees or less who are unable to work from home during lockdown. Anybody who is eligible for testing will be contacted by us directly with details on how to book.
Symptom-free testing is a really useful tool at our disposal and will help to identify people who aren’t displaying symptoms, in order to break chains of transmission in the community and provide further resilience to the essential services we all rely on.
As of 23 February, more than 35k vaccinations had been administered across the Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire area in the previous seven days.
The COVID-19 vaccine is currently being offered to:
those aged over 65
clinically vulnerable people aged between 16 and 64 with underlying health conditions
those registered as a carer with their GP
If you are aged 65 and over or classed as a carer, you can book your vaccine without an invitation from your GP through the National Booking service, or by calling 119. More than 76 per cent of those aged 65 to 69 have already had their first dose.
If you've already had the vaccine, it's important that you continue to follow the guidelines as there is a chance that you might still get or spread coronavirus.
On Thursday (4 March) from 6-7:30pm, Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group (BSWCCG) are hosting a dedicated session for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities to ask questions about the coronavirus vaccine to a panel of expert speakers and community champions.
You can submit your questions in advance and register to join the zoom session by emailing the BSWCCG
Local elections are taking place on 6 May, so it’s time to start thinking about how you want to cast your vote- whether that’s by post, by proxy (when someone else does it on your behalf) or in person.
This year, we’re taking precautions to make sure that voters and election staff are staying COVID-safe. For in-person and proxy voters, this includes the introduction of the following at polling stations:
The census is a unique survey that happens every 10 years. It gives us a snapshot of all the people and households in England and Wales – the most detailed information we have about our society.
By taking part, you can help inform decisions on services that shape our community, such as healthcare, education and transport. It’s important that you fill in your census questionnaire. Without the information you share, it would be more difficult to understand our community’s needs and to plan and fund public services. Postcards have started being delivered this week with more information or you can find out more here.
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