Don’t give the gift of Covid this Christmas warns Swindon health chief

The borough’s health chief has urged people not to let Covid-19 be the gift they give their loved ones this Christmas.

Steve Maddern said the case rate had come down in Swindon to 136 per 10,000 people but there was still more to be done to get it down further.

And as England prepares to leave the latest three-week national lockdown and enter Tier two restrictions her said it was imperative people continued to follow the rules.

He said: “There still are restrictions although they are less tight than the current lockdown.

“I know people have Covid fatigue now, but we still need you to follow the guidelines and wash your hands regularly, wear a mask and make space.”

The council’s director of public health Steve Maddern and Kevin McNamara, the chief executive of the Great Western Hospita were answering questions on the pandemic when the plea was made.

Mr Maddern said one setting particularly associated with outbreaks in Swindon was car-sharing: “We are asking people not to car share if they can possibly avoid it.

“If you must car share to get to wear you are going please minimise the risk of transmission – have as few people in the car as possible, keep the window open as much as possible, wear a mask and clean all the touch points, handles etc before and afterwards.”

He re-iterated the relaxed rules on gathering for Christmas were that up to three households could meet in one bubble for five days, but must not meet others indoors.

And he warned against hugging and kissing.“Covid doesn’t choose who it transmits to. Don’t relax the rules for your family or loved ones. Don’t let Covid-19 be the gift you give to them this Christmas.”

Mr McNamara said January and February would be the busiest and most challenging months of the year at GWH in a normal year.

“We will respond if we are needed,” he said. “But we need there not to be a big surge in cases after Christmas so that’s the responsibility that’s on all of us to try and keep it under control.”

But both Mr Maddern and Mr McNamara had warm words of thanks for the people of Swindon for taking their responsibilities to keep themselves and others safe.

Mr Maddern said: “I want to say well done to the people of Swindon who have been doing a fantastic job top get the case rate down here in Swindon, especially over the last three weeks.

Mr McNamara said: “It’s great to know the people of Swindon have our backs, especially for all the staff on the front line who have been working so hard over an extraordinary nine months.

“It’s great to know we have that level of support.”

Mr Madden added: “The campaign ‘Swindon: it’s up to all of us’ has really captured hearts and minds and people have really being doing fantastic things – but this is no time to become complacent.”

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