Enjoy bank holiday but stay safe to keep coronavirus cases in Swindon low, public health expert warns

ENJOY the looser lockdown restrictions this bank holiday weekend – but stay safe and keep to pandemic guidelines so that coronavirus case numbers stay low.

That’s the key message from Swindon Borough Council’s public health boss Steve Maddern as the town looks forward to three days of sunshine, scorching temperatures and relaxed restrictions.

Figures for new Covid-19 cases recorded in the Swindon area remain low but have not declined at all in the last week so we’re not quite out of the woods yet.

The number of Indian variant cases in the area is “incredibly small” but, with evidence suggesting that this latest variant of concern is more easily-transmitted, following the rules remains all-important to prevent it spreading further.

People are encouraged to test at home twice a week, and to get a test and isolate if they feel unwell.

Mr Maddern said:”We want to get to June 21 and the overall case rate is good but we don’t want people to unnecessarily expose themselves.

“I want people to enjoy the bank holiday and the lessening of restrictions but please don’t forget that Covid is still with us.

“Do everything in line with the guidelines, which allow you to mix, but if you or your children are mixing with people you or they don’t normally mix with, remember Hands Face Space, Fresh Air.

“The evidence [for the Indian variant] is suggesting higher ‘transmissibility’ which is why it’s really important that people are compliant with the rules.

“We will do everything we can to prevent the spread of not just a variant but of Covid full-stop. Our numbers are incredibly low at the moment and we want to keep it that way.”

Most of the last week’s 36 cases were recorded in 44-to-49-year-olds, with none in over-65s or 14-to-19-year-olds.

As one case of the Indian variant was confirmed at Swindon Academy, Mr Maddern reassured people that educational facilities around the town are managing small outbreaks well.

He added: “”The schools have been incredibly well-prepared for children coming back [to classrooms]. With each lessening of restrictions, we anticipate a fluctuation in case rate and we haven’t necessarily seen that in Swindon, which is to some degree comforting.

“Children in secondary schools don’t need to wear masks but we can always reintroduce that should we be dealing with outbreak situations. Case numbers in children are incredibly low.”

The average infection rate in the south west has risen from 8.6 cases per 100,000 population while Swindon’s has remained steady at nearly double that, 16.2.

Both of these areas have a lower infection rate than England’s average which has gone up from 20.5 per 100,000 last week to 23.4 this week.

The new cases and one new death recorded in the last week bring the total for Covid-19 cases and deaths within 28 days of a positive test to 11,635 and 273 respectively.

The positivity rate for Swindon is 0.8, which is the same as the England average but higher than the south west’s 0.3 average.

The average contacts associated with Covid-19 cases – which is the number of people identified and asked to self-isolate by test-and-trace after a positive case is confirmed – went up to five per case in Swindon, which is more than the south west’s average of 2.7.

The reason for this difference is not yet known.

Coronavirus vaccination centres have given 129,633 first doses and 77,916 second doses to people in Swindon.

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