Lockdown has finally managed to drive down Solihull’s Covid-19 cases to levels not seen since before a disastrous surge started in the second half of December.
The case rate has fallen to 148 per 100,000 (between February 11-17) and not one of Solihull’s 17 wards recorded more than 100 cases in the latest fortnightly figures.
Although with the borough’s official death toll having risen again, to 557, it is a sobering reminder of just how devastating the second wave has been.
It is particularly cruel that more than 200 Solihull residents have died since the news in November that an effective jab was on the verge of being approved.
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And despite the continuing fall in infections, numbers are still at levels 35 times higher than after the original lockdown was lifted last summer.
In mid-July, nine cases were recorded over the course of a seven day period – compared with 321 in the latest figures.
The fear of another spike, even as vaccines are rolled out en-masse, is likely to have weighed on ministers’ minds as they put the final touches to a “roadmap” for easing the latest lockdown.
Ruth Tennant, the council’s director of public health, has warned there is still “more to do”, with large numbers of people continuing to fight for their lives in local hospitals.
Her latest intervention echoes comments by the region’s NHS chiefs only last week, with University Hospitals Birmingham (UHB) boss David Rosser warning the crisis was “not over by a long shot.”
With schools scheduled to reopen in two weeks’ time, public health chiefs will continue to watch numbers closely ahead of the gradual easing of restrictions – which will take place in stages over the coming months.
Ms Tennant said: “Even with vaccination, to get to a position where it’s possible to release some of the lockdown measures safely and to keep rates down as this happens, we need to do everything we can to stamp out the virus.”
Her team is continuing to urge people having to go to work to take advantage of the borough’s rapid turnaround tests, a key tool for preventing outbreaks.
And the council has also hammered the message that residents who have had the vaccine still need to follow the guidelines – with Ms Tennant pressing the advice on her own family.
“Told my mum this does not mean she can now car share with her mates and to be super-careful when she shops,” she tweeted over the weekend.
Ward-by-ward data (February 3-16):
- Bickenhill – 66 (-26)
- Blythe – 50 (-34)
- Castle Bromwich – 60 (-32)
- Chelmsley Wood – 61 (-51)
- Dorridge & Hockley Heath – 18 (-31)
- Elmdon – 58 (-8)
- Knowle – 19 (-21)
- Kingshurst & Fordbridge – 91 (-56)
- Lyndon – 63 (-50)
- Meriden – 12 (-26)
- Olton – 31 (-25)
- Silhill – 53 (-12)
- Shirley East – 33 (-27)
- Shirley South – 46 (-27)
- Shirley West – 44 (-53)
- St Alphege – 26 (-35)
- Smith’s Wood – 72 (-35)