Over the summer, the coronavirus rate in the UK dropped to low levels which was very welcome. This was especially so in West Sussex where we stayed well below the national average. However, the last few weeks have seen a significant increase in Europe and it appears that the major increases that we’ve seen in countries like Spain and France is starting to be replicated here.
This is of course concerning. Hospital admissions and deaths are thankfully very low but there is no guarantee this will remain to be the case. What is happening on the continent and now here, is that coronavirus is spreading among younger people who often have either milder or no symptoms. While infections have been low in the population, the risk of older and more vulnerable people becoming infected and then very ill has also been very low. The risk is if there becomes a critical mass of infection in the community that then seeps into our older and more vulnerable groups.
I know it is hard to keep our guard up for such a sustained period, but the need hasn’t gone away and appears to be growing. Evidence from the northwest of England which has had the highest English coronavirus rates over the summer, shows that most transmission has been households mixing in each other’s homes. Most of us are naturally hospitable so it is hard not to do this, but at times when it looks like the virus rates are shooting up, it feels wise to limit this as much as possible or not do at all. Above all, practicing social distancing and common sense, wearing masks at public indoor venues as well as frequent hand washing remains the sound advice.
It isn’t all doom and gloom. Clinical trials for vaccines are going well and testing and treatments improve all the time. Last week, a new £500 million funding package was announced by the government to invest in next generation testing technology and increased testing capacity. Things will eventually get back to normal, but for now the message of Stay Alert remains key.
Councillor Duncan Crow, Leader of Crawley Borough Council Conservative Group
16th September 2020