Council leaders are warning that coronavirus case rates in the city remain too high, and are urging residents to keep getting tested and to get vaccinated.
Figures from last week show 955 people tested positive, meaning nearly 1,000 people in the city have had to self-isolate for 10 days. On the assumption that people work five days a week, the statistics equate to the city losing nearly 5,000 days at work a week from businesses, schools and public services.
Council leader Abi Brown said: “Staff losses is the biggest issue facing the NHS and other public services at the moment, not just in hospital but GPs, community services and ambulance staff and our own council services. Over the course of the pandemic we have worked hard to support our local economy and help businesses reopen that were forced to close. I would urge people to continue to follow the guidance so we reduce the risk of testing positive and causing further disruption to our businesses, schools and public services.
“‘Living with covid doesn’t mean that we can throw away all the very simple things that we can do to keep ourselves, family, friends and our community safe – testing regularly and getting vaccinated are simple things that don’t interfere with everyday life but make the world of difference.”
The seven-day rate of coronavirus cases in the city is now 372.5 per 100,000 people, for the week 21 August – 27 August 2021. This is a 13.2 per cent increase on the previous seven days. The positivity rate or the percentage of people who have had a test and tested positive is 10.5 per cent. Cases are spread across the city, but hotspot areas are Bentilee and Ubberley.
Dr Paul Edmondson-Jones, director of adult social care, health integration and wellbeing, said: “A case rate of 372.5 per 100,000 is not where we want to be, the higher our rate the further disruption will affect the NHS, schools, public services, businesses and everyday life. We are currently way above the England average (312.9) and we are the 26th highest local authority in England and the 3rd highest local authority in the West Midlands.
“We can all help to drive our rates down by continuing to follow the public health advice, Hands, Face, Space and Fresh Air and to keep regularly testing ourselves.”
This comes as this week pupils across the city have been returning to school and college. Over the past 18 months pupils have faced disruptions to learning and the city council hopes this new academic year will be a much easier and enjoyable for them.
The following COVID-19 measures are now relaxed:
- Bubbles and staggered start and finish times are no longer advised
- Children can again have break times and lunch together and take part in practical lessons and sports with other classes and year groups
- Face coverings are no longer required for staff or visitors
- Pupils and students identified as a close contact will not need to self-isolate
Council leader Abi Brown continues: “As we move into the autumn term, we need to strike the right balance so that we can maximise the number of children and young people in face-to-face education and minimise any disruption to their education and learning. While the benefit of education continues to significantly outweigh the COVID-19 health risk to children and young people, we know many parents will need reassurance about their return.
“All schools and colleges have been advised to continue with regular handwashing, cleaning regimes, and to keep spaces well ventilated. Schools should also have plans in place on what to do if there are a number of positive cases of COVID-19, or if measures are needed to be reintroduced for a limited period.”
Dr Paul Edmondson-Jones, director of adult social care, health integration and wellbeing, continues: “With the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, young people are now able to enjoy more freedom in their education. We should be clear that a positive case should no longer mean the sort of measures that we saw throughout the last academic year. If a child or young person has been identified as a close contact, they will be advised to take a PCR test. They will not have to self-isolate, unless they have a positive PCR test result.
“Schools and colleges have a range of measures such as testing, ventilation and hygiene in place to manage COVID-19. These measures will of course be supported by our public health teams, should we need to respond to worrying spikes in the virus whenever they arise.”
To find out more about what to expect when pupils return to school or college in September visit gov.uk/backtoschool.