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Stoke-on-Trent remains on national watch list for coronavirus

Written by on 20 September 2020

Today’s national watch list has been published and as expected, Stoke-on-Trent City Council remains as an ‘area of concern’ for coronavirus cases (Friday).

The government announces each week areas of the country that fall into three categories, the most severe being ‘in intervention’, where local and national leaders can enforce restrictions such as local lockdowns; ‘in receipt of enhanced support’, where a range of extra resources are put in place for additional testing and contact tracing; and ‘areas of concern’, where authorities, Public Health England and the NHS Test and Trace service work together to target activities in particular areas, and are monitored nationally.*

The data used by government in its watch list is based on the previous two weeks of data and the publication comes at a time when the  ‘R’ rate nationally (the number of cases per 100,000 of the population is confirmed as rising to between 1 and 1.2 as cases rise by 10,000 in a week nationally.

It also comes as neighbouring areas such as Wolverhampton and Oadby & Wigston residents will be banned from socialising with other people outside of their own households or support bubble in private homes and gardens from 22 September. Areas of the North West are also seeing greater restrictions introduced including Merseyside and Warrington.

Council leader Abi Brown said: “While we’ve dropped down from 43rd to 58th in the national watch list, this really is no time to be complacent.

“All around us we are seeing areas being placed in lockdown and many of these areas saw cases increase significantly in just one week or a few days.

“I really cannot stress enough how important it is that we do all we can to avoid lockdown in Stoke-on-Trent and keep people safe. Nationally, we’ve seen a massive increase in cases in the UK and we know from other countries that this will shortly lead to more hospital admissions and inevitably more deaths of loved ones.

“While we’ve been praised nationally for the work we’re doing to keep cases down, I would still urge each and every resident to do all they can to stop the spread of coronavirus. Follow the rule of six, keep your distance, wash your hands regularly and self-isolate if you have symptoms. Following these steps will make all the difference to how this will play out in the city.

“We’re continuing with the local community test centre at Fenton Manor next week so we can support residents who need tests and we’ll continue to do all we can to lobby for more testing in the city. This is about us working alongside our partners in Staffordshire to provide local solutions for our residents and our city. Let’s work together to kick covid out of Stoke-on-Trent.”

You can see the national watch list in full at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-covid-19-surveillance-reports

Meanwhile it has been announced that libraries in Longton, Meir and Tunstall will allow customers to browse and borrow books in person again from Monday, September 21.

From next week, visitors can come into those buildings without an appointment and choose items from the shelves. They will also be able to use a public computer for up to one hour per day, as well as the photocopier.

The changes are part of a phased reopening of Stoke-on-Trent libraries. This follows the successful Click, Call and Collect service, which was launched in July to allow customers to order books online or over the phone – then collect during an allotted time.

Cllr Brown continued: “It is great to see the libraries able to open again with these new covid secure measures in place – residents have been eagerly awaiting the reopening so we know they will be well supported across the city.”

When Longton, Meir and Tunstall libraries start the new ‘open access’ service on Monday, there will be a range of covid-secure measures in place so customers can use the sites safely. This includes:

  • Library users must wear a face covering;
  • Customers must use the hand sanitiser provided when they enter the building;
  • Visitors will be asked to complete an NHS Test and Trace form;
  • Sanitising equipment will be available for customers to use at computer stations;
  • The number of computer stations will be reduced to maintain social distancing;
  • A one-way system will be in place to help visitors keep a two-metre distance;
  • All books returned to libraries will be quarantined for 72 hours before they are loaned again;
  • For the time being, there will be no access to meeting rooms, study spaces, magazines, newspapers, CDs, DVDs or public toilets in libraries;
  • Opening hours have been temporarily reduced to allow staff time for more cleaning.

The successful Click, Call and Collect service will continue for now at City Central, Stoke and Bentilee libraries.

The city council will provide more details on plans for other Stoke-on-Trent libraries when they are available.

For more information, including opening times and details on becoming a member and borrowing e-books, e-audiobooks and e-magazines online as well, visit www.stoke.gov.uk/libraries

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.