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Health Director update: Thank you for distancing - Please keep up the good work

An update from Julie Webster, Wirral's Director of Public Health.

Dear Resident, 

In recent months, we’ve all had to make changes, big and small, to our daily lives in the response to COVID-19. I’d like to start this week by thanking you all, whoever and wherever you are, for adapting to the measures that have been introduced in order to protect yourselves and those of us who are vulnerable.

I’d like to acknowledge these efforts. Because even small sacrifices, make a massive difference. Whether you’ve avoided public transport, opting to walk to the supermarket, swapped some daily outdoor exercise for a home workout, or forgone a smoke-filled barbecue in the tempting warmer weather. Thank you. In reality, your small change – is not small at all. Added up, these small individual changes equal massive societal differences that can and will be life-saving for many among us.

Before the introduction of social distancing, each person with COVID-19 was infecting around, 2-2.5 other people. Without going into the technical side of things, this can result in an additional 244 infections tracing back to one person, in a single month. Under social distancing, this rate is right down to less than one infection per infected person. We need this to continue.

Last week, Public Health England Director Yvonne Doyle said that motor vehicle traffic on April 27 was the highest since the lockdown began on March 23. As we enter our sixth week of ‘lockdown’, it might be tempting to add in the odd non-essential trip that you may have avoided in recent weeks. I am asking all Wirral residents to resist this temptation. While some shops may have reopened, it’s important that we still keep in mind the message of ‘essential travel only’. Please, continue to follow the guidance and ultimately, save lives.

There have also been developments locally around the access to COVID-19 testing for frontline and priority key workers. Last week, a mobile site run by the Ministry of Defence (MOD) delivered hundreds of tests in just a few days to key workers. This week, our own Wirral ‘satellite’ site launched and continues to test, prioritising staff from our social care and care home settings.

While many frontline workers were booked in to the MOD site, over-attendance to the site by those without appointments caused delays to vital Coronavirus testing. This week, the satellite site even saw abusive behaviour towards NHS staff who are delivering this vital service. This is, clearly, so, so wrong – and quite at odds with the weekly Clap for Carers.

It is critical that only those with booked appointments attend testing centres – this is to ensure that all tests are being used to help get key workers back to work and also to ensure the safety of our NHS and other staff who are administering tests to frontline workers.

This Thursday at 8pm we’ll come together to clap for our carers and show our appreciation for the strength, commitment and determination of those who protect us when we are unwell or vulnerable. Let’s show them the same support and protection by continuing, to stay home and social distance, to steer clear of testing centres (unless you’re booked in!) and to protect the NHS.