The new variant of Covid-19 “could well already be circulating in our region”, Coventry’s director of public health has said.
Liz Gaulton, Director of Public Health at Coventry City Council, said rising rates in the city could be down to the new variant, which is said to be much more infectious and is putting significant and rising pressure on hospitals and the NHS.
The city’s rate is almost at 200 again – the highest it has been since November 21.
Scientists in the UK are working round the clock to find out whether the current vaccines are effective against the new strain of coronavirus, but they believe it will.
Ms Gaulton said it would be critical for people people in the city to follow all of the advice and regulations over the Christmas period after swathes of the country were placed into Tier 4 over the weekend.
“This year has been so challenging for all of us and I know that so many of us were looking forward to the Christmas period for a bit of normality in such a tough year,” she said. “But the events of the weekend have shown that we cannot let our collective guards down over Christmas as, although we are in Tier 3, our rates are rising and the new variant could well already be circulating around our region.
“What we do know is that the measures that stop COVID spreading will also work against this new variant. That means things like hands, face, space is absolutely essential as they do work which is why it is so important we do not relax over Christmas. We must continue to do the right thing 100% of the time, avoid close contact with anyone not in our bubble especially when in closed spaces where the virus can transmit more easily.”
Christmas rules and isolation from Tier 4
It is now illegal to travel to or from a Tier 4 area where Christmas bubbles have also been scrapped.
Christmas bubbles for those living outside Tier 4 areas – such as Tier 3 Coventry – can meet with no more than two other households on Christmas Day only.
People who have recently returned from a Tier 4 area to the region are urged to self-isolate for 10 days, as part of a joint statement from the Directors of Public Health in the West Midlands.
This means remaining inside the house where they’re staying for the whole 10 days. Other people who live in the house do not need to self-isolate unless they get symptoms, but no visitors should be allowed in that house at all, even on Christmas Day.
Even if you have a negative test, you should continue to self-isolate.
Other advice for the Christmas period
The council provided the following advice:
You must not travel to Tier 4 areas. Travelling in and out of different tiers risks increasing the speed that the new variant will spread across the countr
Although Coventry is in Tier 3, our rates are increasing and it is probable that the new variant is circulating. Therefore, keep your contact to a minimum and act like people you see have the virus.
Think ‘should I do this given what we know about the new form of the virus’ not ‘can I do this within the rules’
You can only meet your Christmas bubble on the 25th December. Keep your visit as short as possible, as few people as possible and outdoors if you can
Look out for other people but pick up the phone or see people virtually to check if they are okay
Liz added: “I know it has been such a difficult year, but it is so important we continue to build on what we have achieved so far so we will be able to see our friends and family as soon as possible.
“But we need to hold off for a little longer and let the NHS do its work treating people with COVID and other critical health needs and give them the time to roll out the vaccine. The NHS really need our help at this time.”
Anyone who shows any symptoms of COVID-19, no matter how mild, should book a free test immediately by calling 119 or visiting www.nhs.uk/coronavirus