Festive hopes hang on lockdown

11:27am - 12 November 2020

‘Act now to save Christmas’ urge North Somerset Council health leaders in response to reports of the steep rise in Covid-19 infections in the area.

The call comes as coronavirus cases continue to climb in North Somerset, with daily rates higher than during the pandemic’s peak in April.

North Somerset Council executive member for health, Cllr Mike Bell, said: “What you do now will have a direct impact on what we can do at Christmas.

“If the trend we are seeing in our case rates continues, tight restrictions will have to stay in place for the festive period.

“The Government will be looking at the coronavirus case data to make decisions about how England will come out of this national lockdown. As weekly figures are reported five days after they are collected, this means what you do now will have a direct impact on the information they use to decide what restrictions need to be in place in December.

“We don't know what the restrictions will be or the pace of any potential vaccine roll-out. We do know this week is a critical point to reverse the current pattern of infection, but that will only happen if we all play our part.

“But we can control what we all do together to limit the spread of the virus. The message is simple – act now to save Christmas."

North Somerset Council’s Director for Public Health, Matt Lenny, said: “Our residents are catching coronavirus from different places in the community, which means you are just as likely to get the virus from your family and friends as in a school or workplace.

"We must think about every setting and every interaction with others as a potential source of infection, but one that we can help prevent through following the basic hands, face and space rules.

“This is why it is vital that you follow the national lockdown guidelines and stay home as much as you can. Mixing between households is a likely way you will catch the virus.

“The best thing you can do, if you do need to go out for an essential journey or exercise, is to assume the virus is everywhere you go and do what you can to keep yourself safe.

"It is hard to keep repeating the same behaviours but most people in our community have developed good habits and please encourage this pattern in everyone you come into contact with whether it’s your family, friends or colleagues. Wash your hands regularly, wear a mask if you can, and make space.”

News this week from Government about the potential for roll-out of a coronavirus vaccine in the coming months could risk people changing behaviours now in the belief that the vaccine will soon be here. But now is not the time to relax measures to protect each other.

Matt added: “While news of the potential vaccine is very welcome, we are some way off from ensuring those most at risk can be protected. We understand that when it is available it will be administered in priority order, with the oldest and most vulnerable members of our community and health staff vaccinated first, and then backwards through the age groups to people as young as 50. But this is likely to be months away rather than weeks, so we cannot afford any level of complacency.”

There is a lag of five days in case data, which is then released in the afternoon, meaning the latest information is for 6 November, which shows the seven-day rate for North Somerset is 239.0 per 100,000. The comparable South West seven-day rate is 166.0 and the England rate is 246.9.

More details on local case data at can be found at www.n-somerset.gov.uk/lomp.

Case data is also available at national, regional, council and neighbourhood level at https://coronavirus.data.gov.uk/cases.