Health experts are warning that COVID-19 is still with us, as a Directors of Public Health annual report reveals the impact of the virus in the city over 2020 and 2021.
Residents are reminded that the best protection from COVID-19 is by getting vaccinated and taking up the offer of a booster where available. People who are unvaccinated are about eight times more likely to be hospitalised with COVID-19 than those who have had both doses of the vaccine and the booster. It is also important to:
- Let fresh air & ventilate indoor spaces
- Wear a mask in crowded places
- Stay at home if you're feeling unwell
- Wash your hands regularly
During 2021, 41,201 Stoke-on-Trent residents (16.1% of the population) tested positive for COVID-19. This is slightly lower than the national average of 16.7%. Sadly, 930 residents lost their lives after getting the virus in 2020 and 2021.
Rates of the virus were similar across the city, with most wards seeing around one in six people testing positive during 2021. There have been hotspots across the city at different points during the pandemic but some of this is down to differing levels of testing by residents.
There was a steady reduction in the rate of new cases from over 200 per day in January 2021 to around 20 per day by April. The rollout of the vaccine program was an important contributor, with 51% of over-12s receiving a first dose by the start of April. Despite this, cases remain high despite reduced testing and COVID-19 is still very much with us.
The city council led a number of activities during the pandemic aimed at containing the spread of COVID-19. These include:
- Supporting care homes across the city
- Delivery of the Community Testing Programme
- Redeployment of staff to key areas such as testing, Adult Social Care, the vaccination and contact tracing programmes
- Covid Stewards made welfare visits and confirmed self-isolation, supporting vulnerable residents
Leader of the city council, Cllr Abi Brown said: “The COVID-19 pandemic presented a unique challenge to our city. Working with our partners we responded to the challenges of the pandemic and the rapidly changing demands.
“It was fantastic to see the city coming together and supporting each other through the dark days of the pandemic, and the heroic efforts of our colleagues in the health service.
“I am proud of all of our city council teams that contributed to the pandemic response. They have all supported the city to minimise the impacts and protect the most vulnerable, with many council staff redeployed to help the pandemic response. As a city council we have also worked to quickly distribute £100m to support businesses through the pandemic. This has reaped rewards with the speed with which they have recovered and shows our local businesses’ versatility and resilience.
“It is such a huge credit to all involved that our community testing and vaccination programmes were so successful. We were the second Local Authority in England to offer rapid Lateral Flow Device (LFD) Testing to residents and our vaccination programme was a major achievement.
“Going forward, the economic and health impact of the pandemic will continue to be felt and our focus will increasingly be on supporting recovery while being ready to deal with any outbreaks that may emerge. I would urge all residents to remember that COVID-19 is still with us and to continue taking precautions.”