Marvin Rees update, 18 February

Hi, everyone. So just back with another COVID update and what we’re doing to keep you safe. So first on the rate, so the case rate is down to around 160 new cases per 100,000 people over the last seven days. This continues to fall, which is good news. It’s still high. 160 is high. It’s not too long ago that we were in single digits. So we’re not going to be prematurely overconfident, and all the rest of it we’ve been warning about, but it is going in the right direction. The England case rate is 148. So other areas are falling faster, but it’s probably somewhat a consequence of us being a city with high levels of population density. As of Monday, 228 people were in our local hospitals, who had tested positive for COVID-19. And up to 7 February 190,981 vaccines were given across the Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire area. And that area is the one that the local health service is organised on hence the BNSSG, as we call it, footprint, that’s where the measures are.

We’ve been running surge testing. In the first seven days, over 33,500 tests were carried out in Bristol and South Gloucestershire, which is around 20% of people who are eligible. Now this helps to increase our national and local understanding of COVID. The testing is incredibly important intelligence that goes back into our research labs to develop our understanding of the virus. And obviously, the consequent vaccine and treatment. Of the tests completed so far, around 1% have tested positive for COVID 19. We expected to see an increase in positive cases, once we increased testing. We expect to know in the next couple of weeks, how many of these cases are of the variants of concern that we’ve been talking about over the last few weeks. But the surge testing programme comes to a close at the end of this week. If you’re eligible for a test and haven’t already had one, please do so as soon as possible. The more completed tests we receive, the more we can learn about this change in the virus. But also please remember to return your test, at the pickup and drop off centres. At the moment there are around 10,000 tests that have been collected, but are yet to come back. Please give them back in, both for your good and for our collective good as well. But for information about surge testing, and where your closest site is visit the Bristol City Council website.

Now, in the news yesterday, there were reports about more people being added to the shielding list. So factors such as ethnicity, deprivation, BMI, and some underlying health conditions are now being taken into account. When assessing who should be shielding. The government have also advised that the shielding programme is extended until 31 March. So we do welcome that more vulnerable people will have access to wider support and a vaccination once it is their turn. We estimate that this will include possibly 7000 additional people in Bristol. So we will be in touch with people in the coming weeks while we put together additional systems in place. But in the meantime, we want you to know that support is available to you. This includes help to do shopping, dog walking, collect prescriptions, or befriending. So if you need support, please do call the We Are Bristol helpline 0800 694 0184, 0800 694, 0184. And if you need some emotional, mental support as well, please call the local 24/7 Support and Connect helpline on 0800 012 6549, 0800 012, 6549. And we’re all, there’s a lot of stress in people’s lives at the moment, a lot of isolation. To feel emotional at this time is perfectly natural. So please do make the use of that line if you need to.

Now everyone across Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire in the top four priority groups for the vaccination have now been offered their vaccination. Local health and care teams are now moving into the next stage of the vaccination programme. So they’re going to be available for the next two priority groups which are people aged 65 to 69, people aged 16 to 64 who are classified as clinically extremely vulnerable. Those in the clinically extremely vulnerable group includes those with chronic respiratory disease, chronic heart, liver or kidney disease, diabetes, severe learning disability, or severe mental illness. If you’re in either of these two priority groups, you will be contacted to book your vaccination. If you’re unsure as to whether you’re in a clinically extremely vulnerable group full details are on the government’s website, GOV.UK. If you’re aged 65 to 69 you can still book an appointment either through the NHS website or by calling 119. If you’re in the top four priority groups, but haven’t yet had a vaccine, please book online or contact your local GP. For further guidance on vaccinations you can visit the healthier together website as well. Take care, stay safe.

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