Marvin Rees updates, 13 November

So just back with another update on COVID-19 in Bristol and what we’re doing to keep everyone as safe as possible. You’ll know it’s been a challenging time for Bristol. As of 12 November, our infection rate was 447 cases per 100,000 people. That’s 2073 cases in the last seven days alone. This is a challenge for us. The England average of prevalence amongst 100,000 cases is 134. Oldham is 748, Blackburn and Darwen 736, B&NES 229 South Gloucestershire 330. So you can see that in the incidents of COVID, we are up there and facing a challenge. The regional R number remains estimated within a range of 1.2 to 1.4. More data is going to come out this evening – Friday evening and we will update our website accordingly. This is difficult, but we do ask you to remember the guidance and the rules. Hands, Face and Space. Stay at home as much as you can, limit your social interaction, self-isolate, if you’re asked to or have symptoms. The virus spreads person to person through droplets and aerosols. So understanding that you can manage your behaviour to minimise the risk you expose yourself to and, by extension, the risk people who come into contact with you are exposed to. Please look after each other and look after yourself. A 24-hour, seven day a week mental health support line is available on 0800 0126 549. And if you need support for anything, you can call the #WeAreBristol helpline 0800 694 0184. That could be if you are struggling getting hold of food or medical supplies, we will be able to put you in touch with people who can offer you that support. So please do reach out to us. We do need to face up to this together and no one should be shy about coming forward sharing their needs.

This week, Bristol has been named one of the 67 areas to receive the rapid COVID-19 tests. So we’re going to receive a batch of 10,000 tests as part of this new pilot scheme. The devices are called antigen lateral flow tests and they don’t require a laboratory to process them, which is one of the things that makes them so quick. Now this is not the same system that’s recently been announced in Liverpool. Liverpool rolled out city-wide testing with the aim to test everyone, whether they had symptoms or not. Our Director of Public Health is working closely with Public Health England South West and local NHS partners to draw up a detailed plan for our testing regime. We’re going to look at how these tests can be delivered to targeted groups and to better understand the spread of the virus. This will help support and expand our local testing capacities. More details are going to be shared once the plans are agreed and if you want more information about the latest guidance, visit the bristol.gov.uk/coronavirus website.

Homelessness has been an issue. It was an issue in the first lockdown and it’s becoming an issue again. At the moment we estimate about 75 people on the streets. We know that they are particularly vulnerable to the virus and also at risk of passing it on. So since the Everyone In call – that’s when we took people off the streets in the last lockdown – we’ve provided 1,181 accommodation placements. 372 people remain in accommodation, 418 have successfully moved on. So when it’s done right – and the services and the support comes in – we can support people to really open up a new chapter in their lives and we hope to continue doing that with adequate government support that we’re going to be pressing for. We’re going to increase emergency accommodation this time, particularly for those with higher support needs. That means increased access to rooms and shared houses and repurposing existing accommodation. We have three sites currently operating as supported housing. We have a bid for a share of government funding of £10 million to local authorities through the Protect Programme. We will then hopefully take that money and again invest in supporting rough sleepers and people who have fallen into homelessness. So lots going on, please take care of yourself. We’re going to do our best for you. But remember – Hands, Face and Space. Limit your physical interactions with other people.

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