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Local Lockdown avoided in Stoke on Trent

Written by on 6 September 2020

Local lockdown avoided due to swift action, as people urged to ‘kick coronavirus out of Stoke-on-Trent’

Swift action by city leaders, health experts and communities has helped Stoke-on-Trent to avoid having a local lockdown, it has been revealed.

Now Stoke-on-Trent City Council is urging local people to continue to take personal responsibility to kick coronavirus out of the city.

Stoke-on-Trent was named on a national watch list as an ‘area of concern’ last Friday (28 August), following an increase in cases earlier last month. It led to 593 people being tested at a local testing centre in Normacot over three days, and more than a thousand more people being swabbed at the regional testing centre at Stoke City FC.

Council leader Abi Brown last Wednesday chaired a meeting of the local outbreak board, made up of public health, local authority and regional representatives who report on the coronavirus to government.

Councillor Brown said: “We know we reached a tipping point in people contracting the virus on 20 August, when the seven-day figure for new cases reached 83. What the data has since shown is that the rate of new cases per 100,000 population at the time was the highest in the West Midlands, ahead of areas such as Birmingham and Sandwell that are now on the national watch list as ‘areas of enhanced support’ – the next step up in terms of severity.

“The swift way we as a city responded to this tipping point was critical and the response of the community; business, education and faith leaders has been incredibly responsible; it has unquestionably contributed to helping avoid a local lockdown.

“It has also given a strong message to government that we can act quickly and decisively to take the right steps to contain the disease. We are seeing the number of new cases of the coronavirus fall, and if the downward trend in cases in Normacot continues, it will quickly no longer need the same level of intensive support.

“But let me be really clear: we remain a long way from defeating this disease. We all need to be vigilant and take personal responsibility including washing our hands, covering our face and making space. We know that where there have been increases in cases in the city they have been linked to household-to-household transmission. We all need to follow the public health guidance and reduce the risk of spreading the disease. We remain an area of concern nationally, and this is likely to be the case for a while yet. We all need to ensure that we do all we can to come off the national watch list, and that we kick coronavirus out of Stoke-on-Trent.”

Meanwhile, the council has today (Wednesday) written to all schools as pupils across the city return to the classroom this week. All schools have been issued with extra guidance, reinforcing messages on social distancing, traveling to and from school, how to check for coronavirus symptoms and details of how the NHS Test and Trace programme works.

Councillor Brown said: “We’d like to wish all pupils, families and school staff a happy and healthy return to the classroom. We know that the past few months have been a difficult time for families. Schools have worked exceptionally hard throughout the summer to put in place thorough measures to support learning in as safe an environment as possible.

“It is really important that we all continue to follow the public health advice. Pupils and families must continue to socially distance to help minimise contact with others outside their household, on the way to and from school, and after school. Walking and cycling to school is encouraged wherever possible, and in cases where the journey to school and back is by car, school or public transport, that this is done safely. Schools are operating staggered start and finish times, and drop off and collection arrangements. This will avoid large groups of pupils and parents gathering at the school gates at the same time.”

Meanwhile, the local wellbeing service Changes Here4U, is continuing to provide digital and online support services for children, young people and adults. Online peer support groups and wellbeing training and one-to-one telephone or video support for children, young people and their families, including keyworkers, are being offered.

To access Changes Here4U, residents can call 07983 437747 or email wellbeing.here4u@changes.org.uk. Residents will need to provide their name, telephone number and/or email address, and tell the service why they are contacting them. A member of staff will then be in touch to talk through the service options. Residents can also find out more about the programmes and support Changes Here4U offers on the website at http://changeshere4u.org.uk.

For more information and advice on the coronavirus (Covid-19) please visit Public Health England:

https://publichealthmatters.blog.gov.uk/2020/01/23/wuhan-novel-coronavirus-what-you-need-to-know/ and the NHS: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/.

All residents are reminded about the critical importance of regular handwashing with soap and hot water for 20 seconds. The significance of this action cannot be underestimated. If residents have symptoms, please get tested. All residents must continue to follow the guidance of wash hands, cover face and make space.

For more information on digital services, visit www.stoke.gov.uk, download the MyStoke App, or follow the city council’s social media channels.