Public organisations across Coventry have joined forces to call on people and businesses of the city to do all they can to fight coronavirus and reverse the continuing rise in cases.
The unprecedented step comes as a sustained rise in the number of COVID-19 cases threatens to put the city in the ‘area of concern’ category which would see additional restrictions on all those who live, work and study here.
It has led to key organisations to appeal to residents and businesses to make sure they follow health and Government regulations to protect themselves, their loved ones, and others – as well as avoid action taken in other cities such as Birmingham and Liverpool. Representatives from the city council, police and health, said the whole city has to pull together and everyone needs to play their part.
Leader of Coventry City Council, Councillor George Duggins, said: “Coronavirus is an issue that affects every single person in this city – everyone is at risk of catching the virus, and everyone can do their bit to reduce the risk of getting and spreading it".
“For many months Coventry has done well but a recent sustained rise in positive cases means we are now at a crossroads and we may face further restrictions if we cannot bring the number down".
“The reality is if that happens, under the current system we do not know when we would come out of those additional restrictions. What we are asking as partners is for people to make every effort to ensure we do not have any further restrictions that will impact on all of our lives".
Professor Kiran Patel, Acting Chief Executive at University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire (UHCW) NHS Trust, added: “Increased cases across the community are starting to result in increased cases in the hospital".
“During lockdown, one thing the city and the country did well was to follow the advice and regulations to help protect the NHS – we need that mentality to return".
“Increased positive COVID-19 cases in the community will result in additional positive cases amongst the most vulnerable in the hospital during winter which is always an extremely busy time".
It is a view echoed by Dr Sarah Raistrick, a Coventry GP and Chair of the NHS Coventry and Rugby Clinical Commissioning Group. She said: “The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has been tough for so many people but the reality is that the virus is not going away anytime soon meaning we all have to continue to play our part in reducing the risk of spreading the virus".
“It’s really important that everyone remembers that frequent hand washing, using face coverings and where it is possible keep two metres (three steps) apart. Where this is not possible people should keep a social distance of one metre plus to help reduce the risk of transmitting coronavirus. Please do not go to your GP if you have symptoms of COVID-19 but instead follow the guidance and call NHS 111”.
Chief Superintendent Mike O'Hara of West Midlands Police thanked the majority of people for following the rules but said the police would take enforcement action against those who choose to disregard them.
He said: “Coventry’s infection rates are rising, and we face a difficult task policing COVID restrictions".
“Our style has been to support the public in facing these difficult challenges and on the whole, the response to this approach has worked".
“We’re continuing to engage, educate and encourage people to follow coronavirus laws, but we won’t hesitate to fine people who don’t listen and continually flout these restrictions, which are in place to protect the health and wellbeing of the community”.
In recent weeks, cases in the city have shown a continual increase and now stand at 105 in every 100,000 per population.
That figure remains lower than in other towns and cities that have seen restrictions imposed, such as Birmingham, Manchester and Solihull, but the fear is that the continual rise could see Coventry added to the Government’s list of ‘areas of concern’.
There are now new rules around self-isolation and tough fines of up to £10,000 have been introduced for those who fail to follow the law. There is also a new NHS app to help with Test and Trace, and everyone is being urged to download it and leave their details when out and about in the city.
To help protect yourself, your family and others, and support the work of our health and care professionals, follow some simple steps:
1) Follow social distancing rules
2) Wash your hands regularly and use tissues when you cough or sneeze
3) Know what to do if you have symptoms
4) Follow the advice to self-isolate
5) Wear a face mask or covering when in a confined indoor space, when shopping and on public transport, unless you are exempt through health or work reasons
6) Leave your Test and Trace details when at social venues