Column: Infections and injections in a race
The latest column by North West Norfolk MP James Wild during the pandemic, Friday, January 8, 2021
Happy New Year.
The Prime Minister’s announcement of a national lockdown was not the start to 2021 that anyone wanted. The message once again is: stay home, control the virus, protect the NHS and save lives.
While everyone’s efforts were helping to control the old variant of Covid-19, the new highly transmissible variant is spreading at an alarming speed. In West Norfolk rates have increased 30 per cent week on week to 391 per 100,000 people.
This is putting the NHS under more pressure than ever during this pandemic. At the end of December, 30 per cent of general and acute beds at QEH were occupied by confirmed Covid-19 patients compared to 7.8 per cent in mid-November.
I pay tribute to all the staff who are dealing with this very challenging situation and who have been looking after our community throughout this pandemic.
After the UK’s Chief Medical Officers warned that the NHS capacity may be overwhelmed within 21 days, there was no option but to act while the rollout of vaccines continues.
So people must once again stay home except for limited reasons permitted in law, such as to shop for essentials for you or a vulnerable person, to get medical assistance, or if you are at risk of harm including domestic abuse.
In terms of work, the advice is to do so from home unless you absolutely cannot. The clinically extremely vulnerable should shield again. Support and childcare bubbles continue.
Schools will move to remote learning, except for children of key workers and vulnerable children. The classroom is the best place for children to learn and teachers did a great job over Christmas to prepare. Sadly, this decision has been taken to have the best chance of controlling this virus.
This lockdown will affect more businesses and there is additional support to help them through this further period of restrictions.
New one-off grants from £4,000 up to £9,000 will be available for retail, hospitality, and leisure sectors on top of existing payments of up to £3,000 per month for closed businesses.
The borough council will get further funding for discretionary grants for those who do not qualify and the Revenue team deserves credit for its efforts to make timely payments to firms.
The challenge we face has been described as a race between infections and injections. In West Norfolk, QEH vaccinated 2,000 people in just a week.
It is a huge achievement that two vaccines have been developed and approved in less than 12 months. I understand the frustration people have expressed at having to wait so this week I met virtually with the Vaccines Minister and national and local NHS to press on the rollout plans.
There will be additional GP sites and community locations coming online soon.
No one wanted to be going back into lockdown and the weeks ahead will be incredibly challenging. Let’s maintain our resolve as the vaccine is deployed.