NHS boss urges public caution over lockdown rules

An NHS chief has urged the public to remain cautious about Covid-19 even after restrictions are lifted on Monday, and reminded patients and staff that masks will still be required on health service sites.

Social distancing and other Coronavirus precautions at a Co-op shop in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire.  PA Photo. Picture date: Friday April 3, 2020. See PA story HEALTH Coronavirus. Photo credit should read: Jacob King/PA Wire..
Social distancing and other Coronavirus precautions at a Co-op shop in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire. PA Photo. Picture date: Friday April 3, 2020. See PA story HEALTH Coronavirus. Photo credit should read: Jacob King/PA Wire..

Clinical Commissioning Group Accountable Officer Claire Skidmore said more than 650,000 doses of coronavirus vaccine had been given out in the county, and it was on track to achieve 85 per cent coverage with at least one dose by Monday.

But CCG chairman John Pepper told governors an “exponential rise” in infections meant “Hands, Face, Space, Fresh Air” guidance should still be followed.

He said this was especially important around “those who remain vulnerable to Covid-19, including unvaccinated and immuno-compromised patients”.

The Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin CCG governing body was meeting remotely, rather than physically, and Dr Pepper said this “cautious” measure had “been shown to be fully justified”.

In Telford and Wrekin, 492 new Covid-19 cases were reported between July 5 and July 11 while in Shropshire the week ending on July 8 saw 568 diagnoses – a rise in both areas, but they were still below the West Midlands and the English-wide case rate.

The government is due to relax final lockdown measures in England on July 19.

Opening the meeting, Dr Pepper said: “Clearly we’re at a different phase of the pandemic now.

“We have significant numbers of adults who have received both of their vaccinations against Covid-19 but, at the same time, we’re also seeing an exponential rise in Covid-19 infections once more and this is all in the context of the government’s relaxations of the restrictions on July 19.

“So I would ask our public and providers to remain vigilant and maintain good practice.

“People should meet up outside where possible, keep windows open when meeting inside and wear masks in crowded spaces, particularly in healthcare settings.

“We’ve all got a duty to consider and protect others around us and continuing to wear masks in healthcare settings remains vital at this time. This is also in line with the ongoing Public Health England guidance for maintaining services within health and care settings, namely that patients and those accompanying them will be asked to wear a face covering at all times.

“That’s the simple message, to remain vigilant and keep those measures in place in healthcare settings.”

Mrs Skidmore said an “agile working” policy was being developed for the CCG’s own staff.

“We’ve taken time to reflect on the last 12 months and create a more blended approach to working between home and office, where appropriate,” she said.

“The message to staff at the moment is very much: Be patient, wait until we tell you what is happening next. We are not encouraging any large-scale return to the office just yet.

“We want to make sure that working environment is safe, which very much ties in with John’s previous message.”

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