Hi. So, I’m here again with another COVID update and everything we’re doing to keep you as safe as possible. So in Bristol, our current rate of infection is 19 new cases per 100,000 people. That is equivalent to about 89 new cases in the last seven days. This is lower than England average, which is 23 new cases per 100,000 people. So over 215,000 Bristol residents aged over 16 have had at least one vaccine dose and that’s out of a population of 460,000. Public Health England have publicly confirmed that, since testing began, 28 cases of the variant of concern first found in India have been reported in Bristol. So we’re working closely with local health partners to identify all of the cases and put in place very robust track and trace measures. Public Health England continue to inform how we handle cases and ensure any action taken is timely and appropriate and in line with our Local Outbreak Management Plan. Some cities are seeing much higher rates of infection, and some are having to undertake surge testing and vaccination programmes to stem the spread. So, as ever, please be cautious when travelling to other parts of the country, particularly if you are heading away to enjoy the good weather this Bank Holiday weekend. Remember to keep taking your rapid COVID-19 tests. If you have friends and family visiting the city, they can access them too. You can visit our website (www.bristol.gov.uk) for all the details you need.
On vaccinations, the NHS is bringing forward second dose appointments from 12 to eight weeks for people in the most vulnerable groups. This includes over 50s, care home workers, health and social care staff, people aged 16 to 64 with underlying health conditions. You don’t need to do anything unless the NHS contacts you. If you had your first dose at a GP clinic, your GP will be in touch to rearrange your second appointment. Unless you are contacted, please continue to attend your existing second dose appointment as planned. People under 50 will continue to get their first dose, with their second dose at eight to 12 weeks. So please get your COVID 19 vaccines – it’s really important you do so to protect yourself and others.
Now it is half term and we have school leavers coming up. So many Year 11 and 13 students will be finishing and leaving school and college this week. Others will be taking a well-deserved half-term break. So congratulations to all of you for all your hard work over the last few years. It’s been an unprecedented challenge for young people in modern times going through the education system. I know that many of you will be keen to celebrate and meet with friends and family this week. We want all of you to have a great time, but please remember it’s really important. Meet outdoors rather than indoors whenever possible. Only meet indoors with six people or for two households. Unless exempt, wear a face covering when using the bus or train to head into town. Try to avoid car sharing where possible. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, or hand sanitiser if out and about. And be mindful about close contact with others. Be kind and respectful to one another. There are people who are really experiencing challenges with the unlocking that’s going on. I strongly encourage students who are finishing for the summer to continue taking regular rapid tests. Please keep your friends and family safe as the city continues to open up.
Now next week is Volunteers Week. Thousads of you came together to play a key role in the pandemic response – from making phone calls to someone who is lonely or handing out food parcels. Every action has – and continues to make – a big difference and next week we’ll be celebrating and recognising people for the incredible contributions they’ve made. We’ll be launching a short film featuring interviews with just a few of the people and organisations who have helped get Bristol and our residents through this year. Volunteering doesn’t stop at our Can Do Bristol volunteers or community groups. It’s important that we recognise those who did something small, but to others who made a big difference to other people as well. So to those of you who volunteered your time to help others during the pandemic, I just want to say a huge thank you.