Following an increase in Covid-19 infections in the Borough of Northampton, local authorities are asking residents of Northampton to strictly follow guidelines – which are pictured to the left and right.
The increase in infections does not appear to be related to one specific incident or a single method of transmission, therefore residents are being asked to follow additional guidance to that being shared nationally, to protect the local community and reduce transmission rates.
This is not a local lockdown, but guidelines set out by the local authorities to help ensure it does not get to that stage.
This is a matter for local authorities and I have been briefed by council and county health leaders.
Nationally, there are also further updates: from 1st August, advice for workers and employees is changing. Instead of the Government advising people to work from home, employers will be given more discretion, and are more able to make decisions about how their staff can go to work safely. This could mean a continuation of working from home, or it could mean making workplaces safe by following Covid-secure guidelines.
I am also pleased that, from 1st August, we will reopen most remaining leisure settings, namely bowling, skating rinks and casinos, and we will enable ‘close-contact’ services such as beauticians to resume.
Subject to pilots, we will restart indoor performances to a live audience, which I hope local venues can benefit from, and we will pilot larger gatherings in venues such as sports stadia, with a view to wider reopening in the Autumn.
In September, schools, nurseries and colleges will be open for all children and young people on a full-time basis, as planned. Nightclubs and children’s soft play areas, however, will sadly need to remain closed for now, although this will be kept under constant review.
A team of world-leading scientists at Oxford University have taken a substantial step towards a safe and effective coronavirus vaccination. You can read more about this potential breakthrough here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-53469839.
The UK has also had the world’s first successful drug trial, identifying the low-cost drug, dexamethasone, which reduces death in hospitalised patients with severe respiratory complications by up to one third.
Antigen testing capacity – which is the test informing a person if he or she currently has the virus – has increased 100-fold since the start of March, from fewer than 2,000 tests a day to more than 200,000 tests a day now. We will go further in this regard by increasing testing capacity to at least 500,000 antigen tests a day – 3.5 million antigen tests a week – by the end of October.
We have also set up testing sites around the UK and now have 200 mobile units which can be rapidly deployed wherever they are needed, and local authorities have been given the power to impose local lockdowns where necessary.
The NHS will have the resources it needs, and I will continue to work with the leaders of our Councils and Northamptonshire NHS Trust to make sure it does. Further to the £30 billion of additional funding to health and social care already announced this year, there is a £3 billion investment to get ready for winter, and we will roll out the biggest ever flu vaccination programme in our history.
Direct Government funding to help councils respond to the pandemic has exceeded £4 billion, including, locally, more than £35 million to Northamptonshire County Council, and around £3 million to Northampton Borough Council. The funding will ensure our Councils can deliver crucial frontline services, support those most in need, and continue to provide for residents. I thank the Councils and our local public services for the work they have done throughout the pandemic, and I will continue to work with Council leaders to keep abreast of their handling of the pandemic and collaborate with them to ensure the additional funds help with their cashflow and is spent wisely.
Cases have risen in Northampton in recent days and I therefore encourage everyone to strictly follow the advice above.