Statement from the Director of Public Health Jennifer Connolly

Since Monday (17 May) we have been able to experience a bit more freedom following the next step in the further easement of restrictions on the government’s roadmap out of lockdown

Since Monday (17 May) we have been able to experience a bit more freedom following the next step in the further easement of restrictions on the government’s roadmap out of lockdown. Full information on the government’s roadmap out of lockdown can be found here.

Coronavirus rates are currently at 24.9 cases per 100,000*. There are around 10.4 new cases each day. The latest published data can be found here.

The B.1.617.2 variant (often referred to as the Indian variant) remains a concern. There is a lot of work underway to really understand how much more transmissible this variant is, and as such, how much more harm it could potentially cause. This remains under review and we will know more within the next couple of weeks.

Early indications show it may be up to 50% more transmissible and that this could lead to a spike in hospitalisations later this summer, especially among those yet to receive their vaccination. So, vaccination is a hugely important step and we encourage everyone eligible to come forward for their vaccination as soon as possible. To help, we have a pop up vaccination clinic for the those aged over 33 by July 1 (or are an eligible frontline health and social care worker, clinically vulnerable or a primary carer), happening in the town centre, at Merseyway on Saturday (22nd) 10am – 4pm, no appointment necessary, just turn up.

Additionally, it remains important for us to be somewhat cautious in mixing, as we really don’t want to undo any of the good work we’ve done in reducing transmission. This can be helped by keeping up behaviour changes like social distancing (two metres), washing/sanitising hands regularly, wear a face covering (unless exempt) and keep enclosed spaces well ventilated - this means having windows open at least 15/20 minute every hour. Further information on reducing the risk of transmission can be found here.

The vaccination programme continues, with 68.4% of the adult population in Stockport having received their first dose and 43.9% already having received both. By the start of next week, anyone aged 32 by 1 July can book appointments via the NHS website. If you fall into this age group or are an eligible frontline health and social care worker, clinically vulnerable or a primary carer for someone at high risk from coronavirus, you can arrange a vaccination by calling 119 or book online.

One way to keep us all safe is to get into the habit of using universal home lateral flow testing kits twice each week. Kits can be picked up from libraries and pharmacies across the borough, the Fred Perry House testing centre and the car park on Chadwick Street in Marple. Find your nearest test centre or collection point here.

But testing alone will not stop spreading COVID-19, so self-isolation is key. If you receive a positive LFT test, you and your household must self-isolate for 10 days. You can then have a confirmatory PCR test. Remember if you have symptoms: a new, continuous cough; a high temperature or loss of taste and smell or have had a positive lateral flow test please self-isolate your entire household and get a test. You can book this test here or by calling 119.

Keeping yourself away from other people when you could be infectious is the most effective way of stopping coronavirus in order to break the chains of transmission and support our return to normal. Self-isolation is a legal requirement and you shouldn’t leave home for any reason. It prevents you from passing on the virus to your loved ones, the people you work with, your neighbours and your community.

Anybody in your household could need to self-isolate with little warning, so have a plan in place in case, so you feel confident you could cope. Check you have money to buy what you need and pay your rent and bills. Call the companies and explain your situation if not. If you are worried about your finances whilst self-isolating, you may be eligible for financial assistance. Help may be available to support you to self-isolate if you need it from the council and details can be found online or by calling 0161 217 6046. Don’t forget to tell your work, as your employer may be able to help you with working from home, or any sick leave or special leave options available. You may be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay, a £500 Test and Trace Support Payment or other financial help, including if you’re self-employed. Arrange food, medicines and essentials: ask friends and family to safely drop-off anything you need. Many shops and pharmacies can also help with deliveries too. Your local community hub can also help via text on 07860 022 876. Please also remember to tell your children’s school if they are self-isolating, as they will be able to get help with home learning and may be entitled to have free school meals delivered.

Finally, take care of your mental health and wellbeing and remember if you’re finding things difficult, we have lots of offers of help and support, so 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.

**This is the latest figure for Stockport validated on 21.5.21.