Coronavirus (COVID-19) - What you need to know
Swindon: It's up to all of us
- Introduction from our Director of Public Health
- What you need to do to help prevent coronavirus spreading in Swindon
Introduction from our Director of Public Health - updated Friday, 18 September 2020
Swindon was first added to the Government watchlist on 7 August – as one of the areas it was concerned about due to the infection rate reaching over 20 cases per 100,000 in the population. At the highest point, Swindon’s case rate rose to over 50 cases per 100,000 following some local outbreaks, including at XPO Logistics back in July. Over this period our public health and other teams have worked non-stop with partners to contain local outbreaks and support our communities, businesses and schools.
Our status on the watchlist has helped us to secure a new local testing site at Broadgreen Community Centre which, from Tuesday 15 September, is operating alongside the mobile testing unit at Civic Annexe and regional testing centre at the former Wroughton Park and Ride site.
The Government is seeking to address the need to increase laboratory capacity to process tests, which has had a knock-on effect on the availability of testing slots to book across England. We expect to hear more shortly on the Government’s plans to improve testing capacity. Despite these issues, the latest data shows that between 2 and 15 September more than 5,800 COVID-19 tests were carried out between the three testing sites in Swindon, with a further 1,323 home testing kits being sent out to local people.
The current advice on getting a test is:
- If there are no local test slots available keep trying as new slots and home testing kits are made available daily
- Regardless of age, only book a test if the person being tested has one of the three COVID-19 symptoms – new cough, high temperature or loss of taste/smell
- Do not just turn up at a test site because you will be turned away
- Do not call NHS 111 to book a COVID-19 test – you will not be able to do so and this phone line must be prioritised for people with other medical and health issues
The positive news is that Swindon has been taken off the Government’s watchlist published today, reflecting the reduction in our infection rate. You can read the national Covid-19 surveillance report on the GOV.UK website.
It is an important milestone for the whole community and represents the progress made to get our infection rate down. However, our borough-wide message is that we all need to be very clear that stepping up our efforts was never simply a time-limited exercise just to get Swindon off the Government’s watchlist. Things can change very quickly and we are urging you to recognise that following COVID-19 guidance must remain ‘business as usual’.
COVID-19 will remain a clear and present danger for some time to come, particularly over the winter months and with cases currently rising in many parts of the country.
Taking the essential prevention measures and following the Government guidance will need to remain front and centre in our daily lives for as long as necessary in order to protect ourselves, our loved ones, the community and our health and social care services. It’s up to all of us not to throw away the hard-won progress we have made.
These frequently asked questions explain what we all need to do to keep ourselves and each other safe.
Thank you to everyone playing their part to protect our town.
What you need to do to help prevent coronavirus spreading in Swindon
1. When you leave home you must:
- wash your hands - keep washing your hands regularly for more than 20 seconds
- cover your face - wear a face covering over your nose and mouth in enclosed spaces. GOV.UK has more information about face coverings, including:
- where you need to wear one
- a list of exemptions
- tips on how to make your own
- make space - stay at least a metre away from people not in your household, preferably two metres where possible
When you are at home, it is important that you minimise contact with others outside of your household in order to reduce the spread of coronavirus. Any contact with others should be limited and the steps above adhered to.
2. If you have symptoms:
- self-isolate - do not leave home for at least ten days
- get tested - book a test online at the NHS website or by calling 119. Those living in your household should self-isolate for 14 days if you or any members of the household receive a positive test.
- stay at home - staying at home means not going out for any reason, including to work or to the shops, and not having anyone else come into your home
If you are self-isolating, we can help you with emergency household supplies. Please call Customer Services on 01793 445500 from Monday to Friday, 9.00am to 5.00pm (closes 4.00pm on Tuesdays).
3. Look out for these symptoms:
- high temperature
- loss or change to sense of taste
- loss or change to sense of smell
You must book a COVID-19 test if you experience any of these symptoms, even if your symptoms are mild. We have three testing sites in Swindon at:
- Wroughton Park and Ride site
- Civic Annexe
- Broadgreen Community Centre
4. Avoid car sharing, but if you have to:
- wear a face covering
- sit as far away as possible
- only car share with the same small group
- keep windows open throughout the journey
- wash hands before and after the journey
- clean the car before and after every journey, including internal and external handles
5. Meeting and socialising with friends and family
When meeting friends and family it is still very important you take precautions to keep yourself and others safe.
When meeting with people you don’t live with (or have formed a support bubble with) you can socialise in groups of up to six. You should continue to maintain social distancing with anyone you do not live with.
There is further guidance on meeting with others safely on the GOV.UK website, which includes details of exemptions from this limit, including for larger households and support bubbles.
You can stay overnight in someone else’s home, but only if you do not form a gathering of more than six people. This limit does not apply if you are in a support bubble with the person whose home you are staying in.
It is also important that you:
- do not gather for photos or share items like utensils
- avoid sharing food or drink where possible
6. Information for schools and early years return in September
The Government has set out its national priority to ensure all children are back in their classrooms in September. This is because it is the best place for them to be for their education, development and wellbeing. The Chief Medical Officers from all four nations in the UK have made it clear that the overall risks to children from coronavirus in relation to education settings is low and that the risks associated with not being in school outweigh those of being in school. The Government has also published information on what parents and carers need to know about early years providers, schools and colleges during the coronavirus outbreak.
Measures have been put in place by schools to ensure the safety of students. For specific information on your child’s school, visit their website or contact them directly if they have not already contacted you.
It’s understandable there may be some anxiety from parents and from students about returning to school this year. We are asking anyone who is feeling anxious about their child returning to school, or who is unable to find any of the information they need, to call the Early Help Team on 01793 465050 and advice will be available.
7. Read the latest information on what you can and can't do
The Government has published guidance on staying alert and staying safe outside your home. The GOV.UK website provides key questions and answers to what you should and should not do, including when socialising both indoors and outdoors.
If you are returning to the UK from a trip or holiday abroad, please read the travel advice at the GOV.UK website. This includes:.
- tips for things to do before you travel
- what to be aware of while you’re away
- what you need to do when you return
For the latest updates on the situation in Swindon, please follow the Council’s Facebook and Twitter pages. You can also sign up to regular newsletters.