Health officials plead 'don't throw it away now' as vaccine milestone nears

Health officials have pleaded with people not to ‘throw away’ all the hard work against the virus as it was revealed almost 800,000 people in the region have been vaccinated.

Tipton Sports Academy has become a Covid vaccination centre
Tipton Sports Academy has become a Covid vaccination centre

People need to continue following coronavirus guidelines to bring the region’s infection rates down further, health chiefs say.

The latest plea came after it was revealed the West Midlands is one of the few areas where prevalence of the virus is still rising. And with schools about to reopen as rules are eased chiefs have urged everyone to stay alert.

It comes as another major vaccine hub opened its doors at Tipton Sports Academy – with the aim to vaccinate 1,500 people each day.

New figures released yesterday by NHS England show the Black Country and West Birmingham Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG) have administered 378,388 first doses of the Covid vaccine, while the Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent CCGs have given 394,115 first doses.

The ninth report of REACT-1, one of the country’s largest studies into Covid-19 infections, published by Imperial College London and Ipsos MORI, shows infections in England have fallen by two thirds since the last report published in January.

Slower decline

But while there has been another fall in the number of cases in England, the speed of the decline is slowing. When compared to the interim findings published in February, the prevalence has risen slightly in a number of areas – including the West Midlands. There was an apparent rise of 0.34 per cent to 0.39 per cent in the West Midlands.

In Dudley, the authority’s cabinet member for health and adult social care, Councillor Nicolas Barlow, urged everyone to continue following the rules of lockdown. Councillor Barlow said: “Dudley borough’s virus case numbers are continuing to fall but we are continuing to monitor the situation carefully.

“Covid-19 rates remain too high and all residents, including those who have been vaccinated, must continue to follow the rules of the national lockdown. By staying at home we can help to stop the spread of the virus and I would urge everyone to stand strong and not throw away the incredible work we have done to drive virus figures down in our communities.

"We are reassuring parents and students of their safety in the run-up to schools reopening next week and we have increased testing and safety measures in place to protect our communities as our children rightly return to their education.”

'In our hands now'

Walsall’s director for public health, Stephen Gunther, said: “Thank you to all of our residents who continue to play their part and follow the national restrictions.

“Nobody wants to be in lockdown any longer than necessary, but we must recognise that the rates are still high in the borough, so further improvements are in all our hands now.”

During a board meeting on Wednesday, Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust’s interim chief executive Richard Beeken said: “The director of public health in Sandwell though is very clear – and this is a critical point – as a borough, Sandwell has more members of the population in category eight or category nine jobs, in other words food production, clothing manufacturers et cetera.

“That necessitates them to go out to work and work in environments where they are at much greater risk.”

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