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Government offers Council extra support to speed up reduction in COVID-19 case rate

Swindon has been given priority access to any additional support it needs from central Government to help public health officials continue to drive down the Borough’s COVID-19 case rate.

Published: Friday, 28th August 2020
Swindon - It's Up To All Of Us campaign graphic - for news story 505

The town has today (28 August) been classed as an “area for enhanced support” on the Government’s national watchlist, based on case numbers and infection rate data up to the week ending 23 August.

Swindon Borough Council would like to reassure residents that there are no new requirements, restrictions or actions being imposed on the town.

A spike in coronavirus cases earlier this month resulted in the town being described as an “area of concern”, although Swindon’s case rate has been falling, the area now has priority access, as needed, to increased national support and resources.

As the Council has already undertaken significant community engagement in targeted areas where there has been a greater incidence of COVID-19 cases, the Government’s support will focus on ensuring that continual and consistent access to testing is available.

This will be provided via the town’s testing sites at the former Wroughton Park and Ride site and at the Mobile Testing Unit (MTU) at the County Ground.

Swindon Borough Council’s public health team has been working with Public Health England South West to manage and contain a number of small outbreaks at workplaces across the town in recent weeks.

The latest case and contact tracing data shows that a high proportion of new confirmed cases in the town are among residents living in the SN1 and SN2 postcodes and there remains no evidence of widespread community transmission.

The Council launched a borough-wide communications campaign – ‘Swindon: It’s up to all of us’ - two weeks ago to reinforce a number of important public health messages to Swindon residents. So far, letters and materials have been sent to 300 local groups and organisations and 600 businesses promoting COVID-19 safety messages.

More than 20,000 households in the SN1 and SN2 areas have received a hand-delivered letter from the Council’s Director or Public Health reminding them of the advice they need to follow. Leaflets have also been sent out to households and reminders put in various local magazines and newsletters.

This week further engagement activity in the SN1 community has been carried out with the Council’s public health team being supported by colleagues from Wiltshire Police, and Dorset and Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Service, who have offered advice and information to residents and businesses.

Steve Maddern, Swindon Borough Council’s Director of Public Health, said: “It is important for us to stress to local residents that no new requirements, restrictions or actions are being imposed on Swindon and we are also not being asked to do anything differently.

“This will not affect the planned return next week of staff and children to schools and early year settings.

“The shift in our status reflects the fact that the Government has made extra support available to us – should we need it. We have requested additional support to ensure we have adequate testing and we will continue to monitor the situation closely.

“We have seen a small reduction in our case rate, but it is gradual and we are hopeful extra government support can speed that process up.

“This is still very much in the hands of the community and we cannot for one second let our guard down. We all have a part to play to stop the spread of the virus. It is up to all of us.”

Mike Wade, Deputy Director of Health Protection for PHE South West said: “Overall, levels of coronavirus remain low in the South West. The higher number of cases observed in Swindon have fluctuated over the last two weeks and the Borough has been added to the areas for enhanced support.  

“This support will ensure Swindon’s access to testing is prioritised and I’m confident that measures already introduced are having an impact.

“We would urge people across Swindon to remain vigilant, and to follow the most up-to-date advice provided by the Borough Council.

“It is now more important than ever that people continue to follow government advice on social distancing, self-isolation, wearing face coverings, and practicing good hand hygiene. These will all help to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

“If you have a new continuous cough, a high temperature or a loss of, or change to your sense of smell or taste, stay at home and arrange a test immediately.”

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