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Residents urged to act now to stop the spread of coronavirus and save lives

Published: Monday, 21st December 2020

Council leaders are urging city residents to act now to avoid the spread of the new strain of coronavirus.

The advice from top leaders at Stoke-on-Trent City Council including the city’s leading public health expert comes following news that Stoke-on-Trent has one of the highest rates in the country outside London and the South East.

It also comes following new advice for Christmas in place nationally and news of the emergence of a new strain of Coronavirus. This new strain is understood to be more able to transmit than other strains and to have led to a sharp increase in the number of cases across the country, especially in London and the South East of England.

The city currently has 319.8 cases per 100,000. This shows a broad flatlined position although the range has included as much as 15% increases on previous weekly figures. Today’s figures [to 19th December] show 820 cases in Stoke-on-Trent. There have also been 32 covid related deaths within Stoke-on-Trent, second only to the previous week in terms of number of deaths in Stoke-on-Trent since the pandemic began. 

Of the top 80 local authorities in the national list for coronavirus case numbers, Stoke-on-Trent is 59th but critically it is one of only five of the 80 who are outside London and the South East of England.  This means the city is in a vulnerable position if the new strain takes hold.

As a result, people are being urged to act now  to avoid spread of this new strain of coronavirus in the city and in turn to save more lives. Doing so may also help avoid harsher restrictions.

Abi Brown, leader of Stoke-on-Trent said: “This situation is deadly serious and you can see from the national top 80, our high over 60s rates and the pressure on our local hospital that we really are in the danger zone right now. We need to do everything we can to try and halt this virus in Stoke-on-Trent for the sake of our loved ones. We’ve not seen the reductions that we hoped and we’re also seeing more and more cases of the virus. The new strain transmits more easily making it even more critical that we play our part to try and stop the virus in its tracks now.

“People need to act like they have the virus and take every precaution at this time. Follow the hands-face-space advice, don’t mix with other households indoors and only go out if it’s for work and volunteering or for essential activities. This includes for medical reasons, for education or childcare reasons, to fulfil legal obligations or to access a test. Travel should be limited and kept local only. It’s going over and above but is essential at this time.”

“As a local authority, I can reassure residents that we’ll be working hard across the Christmas period and into the new year to ensure people have the right support in place to help them.

“I’ve personally written to Matt Hancock, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care to ask him to prioritise the opening of our own mass vaccination centre within Stoke-on-Trent as a key national location with great links to the Midlands and the North West, which would hugely benefit not only the city but the whole of North Staffordshire. I don’t want residents having to wait longer for their vaccine than people in larger cities or having to travel long distances to receive the vaccination, like they had to earlier in the year for their tests.” 

“We have in place a huge testing offer as a first line defence against the virus and people can book either a rapid lateral flow test or a PCR at many centres in the city across the Christmas period and I’d urge residents to take this up.

“We are also ensuring that families and communities are supported through the Winter fund, the self-isolation fund if they need to self-isolate,  #StokeonTrentTogether support and also with our 24/7 mental health helpline.”

Paul Edmondson-Jones, director of adult social care, health integration and wellbeing said: “One in three people who have coronavirus have no symptoms and will be spreading it without realising it. We want everyone to get tested whenever they can within the city. While it’s not understood at this time that impact from the new strain causes any worse or less serious illness, with this faster transmitted virus, it’s even more imperative that people take up tests in the city to help us to combat this virus.”

“It’s also essential that people act in a really sensible way over the Christmas period to try and kick coronavirus out of Stoke-on-Trent. Just because you can see your family doesn’t mean that you should.”

Coronavirus transmission trends continue to be predominantly as a result of household transmission and areas where the virus is more prevalent include Tunstall, Burslem, Hanley and Longton. 

People who have returned to Stoke-on-Trent from London or the South East are urged to get tested for the virus, to self-isolate and not to travel unnecessarily.

People can book a test at www.stoke.gov.uk/bookacovid19test Please only book a rapid test if you don’t have any of the three main coronavirus symptoms.

For the latest information on council services and support during the coronavirus, and frequently asked questions, please visit www.stoke.gov.uk/coronavirus. For latest health advice on the coronavirus, please visit www.nhs.uk/coronavirus, and for further information on the virus visit www.gov.uk/coronavirus.

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.