Tameside people are being urged to "dig deep and pull together to make the latest national lockdown count" in curbing the rapid rise in the borough's Covid-19 cases.
Local Covid infection rates have doubled in recent days, after the borough was bottom of the table for new cases in Greater Manchester at the start of December.
While Tameside's rates were lower than many other parts of the country thanks to everyone's collective efforts during Tier 3 and Tier 4 restrictions, they were still too high. The impact of Christmas and the increased spread from the south to the north of the new more transmissible Covid variant means the borough has started to see an exponential rise.
England is now under a third national lockdown until at least the middle of February, which means everyone must stay at home except for very limited reasons permitted in law - including essential medical needs and food shopping, exercise and work for those who cannot do so from home.
Tameside Council leader Cllr Brenda Warrington says the tough restrictions will have "a huge and positive impact" on preventing further hospital admissions with Covid locally and has urged everyone not to give up now in following the rules.
'Please don't give up now, there is light at the end of the tunnel'
Cllr Warrington said: "My heart totally goes out to everyone – individuals, families and businesses - who have already experienced such a difficult year and made ongoing sacrifices they could never have previously imagined. But even more importantly, we all need to remember the people and families whose lives have been seriously affected by covid and do everything we can to prevent further loss of lives and people falling very ill from the disease.
“The tough new restrictions including the ‘Stay at home’ rule will have a huge and positive impact on preventing the number of local people getting very poorly and being admitted to hospital with covid. And while the lockdown is yet another bitter pill to swallow, it could make the difference in preventing someone you know, love and care about falling ill with the virus.
“So I urge everyone to please stick to the rules – no one wants to put these restrictions on people’s lives but they are here to protect us all and ensure we can all look forward to better times very soon."
She went on: “The good news is the covid vaccination rollout in Tameside and Glossop is going exceptionally well – with over 9000 people having had their first vaccination already and I’m pleased to say that, subject to the receipt of adequate further vaccine supply, we are well on track to getting everyone in the top priority groups vaccinated by mid February.
“There is also lots of support available for anyone who is struggling through these difficult times – be it mentally or with accessing food or other types of support. There is further information on this at www.tameside.gov.uk/coronavirus or you can call us on 0161 342 8355.
“I’m incredibly proud of how our community has pulled together to support each other through the pandemic – there are so many stories of people going that extra mile to help others and I know how individually we have all made sacrifices to help protect our loved ones and the wider community. You have my heartfelt thanks for this. Please don’t give up now, there is light at the end of the tunnel and we all now need to dig deep and stick to the rules to get there.”
'The best thing you can do is stay at home'
Tameside Council Director of Public Health Dr Jeanelle de Gruchy added: “The timing of this latest national lockdown is crucial as we must act now to have the best chance of getting a grip on our local covid rates, which have now started to rise exponentially.
“The new variant of covid that is increasing nationally is far more transmissible, meaning you are much likely to catch it and much more likely to pass it on to others. Every contact you have is a huge risk and you need to act at all times like you have covid to safeguard against the risk of you passing it on and someone falling very ill or even dying as a result.
“The best thing you can do is stay at home wherever possible and of course be extra vigilant about hands, face and space – washing your hands, wearing a face covering and social distancing. This really works in helping to stop the spread of the virus.”
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