Covid-19 data consideration, testing and Mental Health Awareness week, James Wild
The weekly column by North West Norfolk MP James Wild during the coronavirus, Friday, May 22, 2020
Look after yourself and each other. Words that echoed in my ears as a boy, as I headed out for adventures with my friends, and remain apt today.
While there were concerns last weekend about the easing of travel restrictions, most people followed social distancing rules even though the coast was busy. Norfolk Police once again managed any issues professionally.
Now as we start to ease lockdown – subject to the Covid alert system and the R rate staying under control –people must continue to act responsibly and use common sense especially as the weather gets warmer.
Enjoying the fresh air on the coast is good for physical and mental wellbeing. During Mental Health Awareness week, people can once again enjoy activities such as fishing, golf or going to garden centres which they value for the peace of mind they provide.
Others struggle with anxiety and worry – if you do please reach out for support from family, friends or groups including MIND, the NHS, the One to One project, and Bridge for Heroes.
Following coverage of Covid-19 infection rates locally it may be helpful to clarify recent data. While the reported infection rate in West Norfolk is higher than other areas, the mortality rate is lower than the national and East of England averages.
The reason I am not rushing to conclusions on the data is that having raised questions, Public Health England and Norfolk’s Director of Public Health are investigating the underlying reasons. Given public concern that must be the right way to approach such statistics.
Testing capacity continues to increase. Anyone aged five or over with symptoms can now be tested at regional centres, pop-up sites, or home delivery tests. Key workers and their households can access local sites including QEH.
A new system has been set up for care home staff and patients – whether they have symptoms or not. Getting results promptly is an issue I have raised with Department of Health ministers.
In West Norfolk and across the country, doctors, nurses, and paramedics have played an essential role in the NHS during the Covid-19 crisis.
The new points-based migration system that the Immigration Bill debated in Parliament this week paves the way for will include a fast-track NHS visa so we continue to welcome these essential workers.
The new system will attract people based on the skills they have, not where they are from. And importantly, the government has lowered the general salary threshold for key skilled workers and for those on the shortage occupation list which could include care workers.
With fewer migrants workers having travelled to the UK this is an opportunity for furloughed staff or people looking for a job to help with the harvest by checking the Pick for Britain website.
When I spoke to Springwood School pupils via Zoom, many questions were about what it was like to be a MP. To give a flavour of a day in my life I recorded three short videos which can be viewed at jameswild.org.uk