Stay Alert, Control the Virus, Save Lives - Updated 21.09.20
New Restrictions for our region
In recent weeks, we have seen the Coronavirus infection rates across the North West increase significantly.
Last week, local councils asked the government to implement new restrictions now, so that we can get on top of this recent spike and avoid going back to the days of the full lockdown we saw in March and April.
New restrictions on social gatherings, hospitality and more will be introduced. That means:
- You cannot socialise with others you do not live with, including close friends and family. Exemptions to this rule do apply if you are providing care or assistance to a vulnerable person. If you live alone and are in a support bubble, you can continue to visit your support bubble by staying overnight in each other's houses and visiting public places together.
- Pubs and restaurants will be limited to table service only, and leisure and hospitality must close between 10pm and 5am.
- Restrictions are being introduced on non-essential visits to care homes.
I understand how difficult these restrictions will be, especially for people living in areas which currently have low levels of coronavirus cases, but it is my hope that by addressing this spike now, we can ensure these restrictions can be in place for as short a period as possible.
There is an exemption in place for those providing informal childcare to under-14's and the vulnerable. This does not apply to playdates or parties.
In order to assist with the local coronavirus response, new testing facilities are being set up across Warrington. Please remember to only get tested if you have symptoms, but if you have a new, continuous cough, a temperature, a loss or change of taste or smell, you should go to gov.uk/Coronavirus and book a test.
Whilst these restrictions are in place, we should continue to remember the basics too – continue to wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, cover your face in enclosed spaces where social distancing is difficult, and keep 2 meters apart from people you do not live with.
This will be a difficult time, but if we all stick to the rules, we will get through this together.
Testing is the key to unlock the puzzle of coronavirus, and will be how we defeat it in the end, and thanks to the ordinary efforts of those who have worked tirelessly to increase capacity, we met our target of 100,000 tests a day by the end of April.
The new NHS Test and Trace programme will ensure we keep making progress in easing the lockdown while continuing to keep the virus under control.
- Our five-part strategy is significantly increasing testing, meaning that testing has now been expanded to anyone over the age of 5, if they have symptoms, and all NHS and social care staff and care home residents, regardless of whether they are showing symptoms.
- This new expansion of testing, made possible due to rapidly increasing testing capacity, will help protect our most vulnerable, our healthcare staff and keep people safe.
The Government has expanded testing so that anyone with symptoms can now get tested for Coronavirus – as we continue to scale up our capacity.
- From now, anyone aged 5 and above with symptoms of Coronavirus, which will now include anosmia, is eligible for a test. If you are experiencing a loss of sense of smell or taste, a new, continuous cough, or a high temperature, you can book a test online by visiting www.nhs.uk/coronavirus
- After doubling lab capacity, setting up 50 regional test centres and 116 mobile testing units, and introducing home testing kits and 3 Lighthouse laboratories, the UK’s testing capacity continues to scale up towards 200,000 a day.
- These extra tests will help slow the spread of the virus, allow key workers to return to work safely, and give healthy people the peace of mind they need.
The global search for a vaccine
The Business Secretary has announced an additional £84 million to support scientists working to find a coronavirus vaccine, meaning up to 30 million doses could be available in the UK by September, if trials are successful.
- Scientists in the UK are at the forefront of the development of a vaccine for coronavirus, and yesterday we announced that the new Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre will open 12 months early.
- We will provide £65.5 million to support the vaccine being developed at Oxford University, and £18.5 million for Imperial College London, as trials accelerate. If the Oxford University vaccine is found to be successful, UK-based AstraZeneca will work to make 30 million doses available by September for people in the UK, as part of an agreement to deliver 100 million doses in total.
- Whilst we have to be realistic that a vaccine may take more time, and indeed, could never come to fruition, it is absolutely right that we are prepared to manufacture a vaccine at pace in this country, as we continue to lead the global response in the fight against coronavirus.