Please keep taking coronavirus seriously - a plea from us

“As we take these first, tentative steps back into normal life, we must all do everything we can to keep the virus out of our communities, to prevent people becoming ill and to prevent more people from dying.”

This is the message from health and local authority leaders today as they issue a stark reminder urging people to continue to take Coronavirus seriously.

When the pandemic first threatened North East Lincolnshire, the public were asked to stay at home, a move which helped keep the levels of infection in our communities and care homes amongst the lowest in the country.

Now Cllr Phillip Jackson, Leader of the Council, Steve Pintus, Director of Public Health, Dr Peter Melton, the Clinical Commissioning Group’s Accountable Officer  and Dr Ekta Elston, the Medical Director, have issued a second direct appeal to the public.

Taking the threat seriously

We all fully understand there are things you are missing badly just now. Whether it’s a hug from someone you care about, being able to plan and look forward to a holiday or joining a large group of like-minded people at a concert or sports event, as we get into the summer months here in North East Lincolnshire our lives still feel very, very different.

We know you share our heartbreak for the lost lives, and for the people whose physical or mental health has been damaged by this terrible virus either directly or indirectly, but we also know you’re probably itching for things to get back to normal.

Today we’ve come together again to ask you to be patient. When the pandemic first threatened our area we asked you to stay at home. The overwhelming majority of you did this and we will be forever grateful for the fantastic public response which has so far helped keep the levels of infection in our communities amongst the lowest in the country.

People are now able to leave their homes, enjoy days out and meet in small groups but please do not forget, we are still living under the shadow of COVID-19.

We simply do not understand enough about how this new virus behaves to say we are anywhere near out of the woods. As people come into contact with one another more than they have for weeks and weeks, there is a constant threat of a second wave of infection. As we take these first, tentative steps back into normal life, we must all do everything we can to keep the virus out of our communities, to prevent people becoming ill and to prevent more people from dying.

We all want to see restrictions continue to be eased so we can do the things we love again. Should infection rates rise again, we face exactly the opposite with tighter restrictions and a possible return to the lockdown nobody wants to see.

What are we doing to prevent this?

The Council, CCG and the wider Health and Social Care community in North East Lincolnshire pledge to continue to work together, doing everything in our gift to protect our local communities. As things begin to open up, we are also working alongside local businesses to keep you safe and to protect the good position we have had so far locally in terms of the numbers of people becoming ill with COVID. We all have a big job ahead.

Our local Director of Public Health is leading the development of an Outbreak Control Plan which describes how local partners will work with the NHS Test and Trace service to contain the virus and respond swiftly to any local outbreaks.

There are works underway and advice available to businesses to enable people to move around safely and feel safe when visiting our shopping and other public areas. As well as working to get the local economy restarted safely, we have an important public health role in ensuring the virus is brought under control so we can continue to see life return to normal.

Testing will be at the heart of our work to get the virus under control. It will inform individuals (and their households) if they need to self-isolate to avoid passing the virus to others, help the NHS provide the best possible treatment to those who need it, and help protect residents and staff in high risk environments such as care homes.

Tracing will build on existing public health expertise and resources, to rapidly identify those who have been in close contact with people who have tested positive for the virus and advises them to self-isolate and get tested if they develop symptoms. This will help close down chains of transmission, protect local communities and increase our understanding of the spread of the disease.

Tracking and Tracing will enable us to take action to contain any local outbreaks through networks that will include the Council, Public Health England, the NHS, voluntary and charitable organisations, faith groups, trade and sports associations. Local action may include temporary closure of individual locations to enable deep cleaning, rapid deployment of mobile testing units, and targeted communications in specific settings or localities.

What can you do?

However, we simply cannot do this without you. We tell you now, we can only succeed in tackling the continued threat of COVID-19 if you all continue to do your bit too.

The asks are not huge but they do mean we all need to continue to:

  • keep our distance – make sure there’s a safe distance between ourselves and anyone we don’t live with
  • follow the rules on who we can meet & where (only small groups of people, meeting outdoors and being strict about social distancing)
  • From Sunday, new Government rules will mean single parents and children under 18 that they live with, as well as single adults living alone, can go inside one other household and even stay overnight without maintaining physical distancing. This does not apply to people who have been told to shield, and groups from different households still must not gather indoors.
  • stay absolutely on top of washing our hands frequently with soap and water
  • be aware of Coronavirus symptoms. The main symptoms are:

 

  • a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
  • a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
  • a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you've noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal

 

  • if there's any hint of the above symptoms in your household, make sure the person with symptoms is tested and the whole household self isolates (which means everyone staying at home and not leaving the house) unless the virus is ruled out with a negative test result. You can ask for a test by visiting https://www.nhs.uk/ask-for-a-coronavirus-test. If you do not have internet access you can ring 119.
  • if you are asked to self-isolate because you have been in contact with someone who has tested positive, please do the right thing and stay at home.
  • Where someone who has been advised to self-isolate needs practical or social support for themselves, or support for someone they care for, they will be directed to the Council for help with things like food or medicine deliveries. 
  • You can also help by covering your face in environments where it is not possible to social distance (in shops or on a bus, for example) and please follow any instructions you are given regarding face coverings when attending appointments in healthcare settings. There is lots of advice online where you can buy or how to make simple masks.
  • Pease check the Government website www.gov.uk/coronavirus often for updates as regulations change.

You will always see people who choose not to follow the recommendations to keep others safe and prevent the virus from taking hold in our communities. Unfortunately, while you cannot do anything about other people’s behaviour, by doing your bit and sticking to the guidelines, you will help form an overwhelming tide of people who are acting in the very best interests of their own communities, people who care about the safety of others.

Doing the right thing will help us keep this virus under control and help us all return to normal life as soon as is safely possible. This includes hugs.

Thank you so much for everything you are doing.