New evidence shows for the first time that two doses of the COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective against the B1.617.2 variant first identified in India.
That is clearly positive news given the evidence suggests that this variant passes on more easily from person to person than the B.117 variant, first discovered in Kent. As of sending the newsletter (28 May), we have a small number of cases of the B1.617.2 variant in Swindon, however current risk to the wider community is low. But that may change at any time. We continue to monitor the situation closely working with Public Health England.
It reinforces why it’s so important to get both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine when you are invited and have the opportunity to do so. If you're aged 30 or over, or if you turn 30 before 1 July 2021, you can now book your COVID-19 vaccine.
Please check this information
if you have any questions about the vaccination programme in Swindon.
If you’re travelling out of the area this bank holiday weekend and mixing with others outside of your household or support bubble, please make sure you’re clear on the rules
and try to:
Get tested twice a week for free and isolate if you are positive
If you experience COVID-19 symptoms book a test and isolate, and make sure your close contacts also isolate
Continue to work from home if you can
Get vaccinated when you are offered it, and encourage others to do so as well
It’s up to all of us to do everything we can to prevent the case rate threatening our progress. Depending on what the latest evidence shows, the Prime Minister is due to provide an update on 14 June as to whether or not England can progress to Stage 4 of the roadmap from 21 June, at the earliest.
Latest COVID-19 case rate data
As of today (28 May), the COVID-19 case rate in Swindon is 17 per 100k, the same as it has been the previous two Fridays. The South West average is 9 per 100k and 25 per 100k for England.
From 18-24 May, there were 37 new COVID-19 cases in Swindon, down slightly from 38 the previous week.
A further 5,469 Swindon residents have had their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine this week, bringing the total number of people who have been vaccinated with at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine to 121,341.
73,454 residents have now had both doses of the vaccine.
Residents aged 30 and over are now eligible to book their COVID-19 vaccine online, by calling NHS 119 or directly through a text issued by their GP. New appointments are being regularly added, so keep checking the website if a local appointment does not show up first time.
The Jaansen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine has now been approved by the Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). This vaccine is a single dose and proved 85% effective in preventing severe illness from COVID-19. It will be the fourth vaccine to be used in the UK to protect against COVID-19.
Travelling safely this weekend
If you're planning to travel over the bank holiday weekend or during half-term next week, remember to plan ahead and travel safely.
You can do this by taking the following precautions:
Walk or cycle where possible
Plan ahead and avoid busy times and routes on public transport
Regularly wash or sanitise your hands
Wear a face covering on public transport, unless you’re exempt
Make sure the space is well ventilated. Open windows or take other actions to let in plenty of fresh air
You must not share a private vehicle in groups larger than six people (except when everyone present is from no more than two households), unless your journey is made for an exempt reason.
You can find lots of information on how to travel safely on the Government's website.
Light at the end of the tunnel
We’ve found light at the end of the tunnel at the site of the Wichelstowe Southern Access. After removing the 50mph speed limit and speed cameras from the M4 last week, our contractor has hit a new project milestone by breaking through the tonnes of earth which sat in the new underpass.
Work to build the new road beneath the motorway can now begin. The new access road will also accommodate pedestrians and cyclists so they can move from Wharf Road and Hay Lane through the new underpass.
Following COVID-19 guidance remains as important as ever
Once you’ve had your coronavirus vaccine it may be tempting to let your guard down. However, it’s really important that you don’t become complacent and you continue to wash your hands frequently, wear a face covering in indoor settings, keep a safe distance from others and get tested regularly.
Although you may be vaccinated, there are still a number of people who aren’t. They need you to continue playing your part to protect them and reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our community.
Remember, it’s not over until everyone reaches the finish line.
Keeping our community safe
Over the past week you may have seen some of our Community Engagement team out and about. The team have been stationed at the Swindon Designer Outlet and Lydiard Park, to give out free symptom-free testing kits and show residents how to use them, as well as answering any coronavirus questions they may have had.
The team will continue to be out and about over the next few weeks so make sure to say hello if you see them around. As always, they will be more than happy to answer your questions and let you know how you can stay safe.
900 local businesses have passed COVID inspections
Making sure businesses are doing all they can to keep their staff and customers safe is key to preventing the transmission of COVID-19 in our community, especially at a time when more settings have now reopened.
We’ve been working with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to carry out a three-step process to ensure our local businesses are COVID-secure. During May, the HSE has contacted a further 211 Swindon businesses to understand what measures they have in place to manage risks during the pandemic.
We are pleased to report that since the project started in January, inspectors have now passed 900 local businesses at either Stage 1, 2 or 3 of the inspections. For more information on how the spot checks work, watch the video above.