Update from Steve Maddern, Director of Public Health
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.
Latest case rate data
As of today (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 today (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.
Additional 4,493 residents identified as being at increased risk
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.
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.
Book your symptom-free test
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.
Let’s do it for our GWH
Shauna and Gemma, two physiotherapists at Great Western Hospital, took a camera with them for one of their busy shifts supporting patients on the Intensive Care Unit. Physiotherapy is really important for ventilated patients - it helps to wean them off ventilation and be able to breathe on their own. Physios also help patients to get moving again after a long period in a hospital bed, ultimately helping them get ready to go home.
To support staff like Shauna and Gemma, please keep following the guidance and help limit the spread of coronavirus in our community.
Two years ago today, Honda of the UK Manufacturing announced it would be closing its Swindon factory this coming July.
We all want to see Swindon bounce back strongly so we’ve been supporting the company’s highly-skilled workforce and wider supply chain to ensure they can make a successful transition into the next phase of their career. Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership is also providing support to help secure a productive new use for the site at South Marston.
You can read how we've been supporting Honda workers and the wider supply chain here.
Our parks are essential to your health and wellbeing.
We've already made £30k of improvements to the Lydiard Park play area which will reopen very soon and a new accessible play area at Coate Water will be built in the summer. A new waterside restaurant and café and cleaning the iconic diving board are other priorities for Coate Water.
We want to know what other improvements you'd like to see us make to Coate Water, Stanton Park, Mouldon Hill, Shaw Forest, Barbury Castle, Pentylands Country Park, and Lydiard Park. Let us know by completing this short consultation.
Preserving our heritage buildings
Great progress is being made to repair the former Clifton Street school which was partly demolished by developers without planning permission in 2018.
Work to restore the building is on-going but is almost complete.
The developers have:
repaired the pitched roofs which had previously been removed
restored all windows back to how they were before work started on site
removed all the internal and external hoardings that were blocking the original doors
replaced or fixed all damaged fascias, pipes and guttering
We know how much this building is treasured by our community so we’ve done all we can to make sure it is preserved for generations to come.
The online event has something for everyone, from talks and shows, online ‘pub quizzes’ and even a virtual planetarium. So, if you’re looking for something a little different to get involved with this half-term, register for your free ticket.