Swindon off Government COVID watchlist but residents urged not to relax

Swindon has been removed from the Government’s COVID-19 national watchlist after a significant and sustained fall in its infection case rate.

Published: Friday, 18th September 2020

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The Borough was added to the watchlist at the start of August following a spike in coronavirus cases but, after three successive weeks of falling case rates, it is now no longer deemed to be ‘an area of concern’.

Over the last six weeks, Swindon Borough Council’s Public Health team, in partnership with colleagues from Public Health England, has managed and contained a small number of local outbreaks in line with its Local Outbreak Management Plan.

The Council also launched the ‘Swindon: It’s up to all of us’ borough-wide communications campaign and undertook community engagement work in those parts of the borough that had seen the highest number of new cases in an effort to reinforce important public health guidance and advice.

Ensuring Swindon has access to testing has been a crucial part of the Council’s strategy in bringing the town’s COVID-19 case rate under control.

Earlier this week a new Local Testing site opened at Broadgreen Community Centre after the Council made a request to the Government for extra testing capacity. The new ‘walk-through’ facility will provide indoor capacity over the colder autumn and winter months. It adds to the testing centre at the Council’s Civic Annex, off Beckhampton Street, and the ‘drive-through’ facility at the former Wroughton Park and Ride site.

Despite recent problems with the Department for Health and Social Care’s national portal, 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.

Residents who experience problems booking a Swindon appointment straight away are advised to keep trying as new appointments are added daily.

Councillor Brian Ford, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Adults and Health, said: “I’d like to thank everyone across the community for the huge progress we have made over the past month to get our infection rate down.

“However, we need to all 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 doing the right thing must now be our ongoing ‘business as usual’.

“COVID-19 will remain a clear and present danger across our community, particularly over the winter months and many other parts of the country have recently seen an increase in the infection rate requiring local restrictions to be introduced.

“Taking the essential prevention measures and following the government guidance needs to remain front and centre in our daily lives for the foreseeable future.

“There are no shortcuts to protecting ourselves, our loved ones and the community. It’s up to all of us to not throw away the recent hard-won progress we have made.”

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