Yesterday evening, following a request I made, I was part of a constructive meeting involving my two North Northamptonshire MP colleagues, Peter Bone MP and Philip Hollobone MP, along with Matt Hancock MP, the Secretary of State for Health & Social Care, to discuss the disproportionately higher COVID-19 case rates we have seen over recent weeks here in North Northamptonshire, and particularly in Corby, and further possible actions to address it.
Fortunately, the trend that I commented upon last week (see: https://www.votepursglove.co.uk/news/roadmap-recovery-disappointing-upt…), where we saw an uptick in cases after fairly consistent, albeit gradual falls, appears to be going in a positive downward direction again, but we must sustain it and ideally drive the infection rates down as quickly and as substantially as possible.
With that in mind, we asked the Secretary of State to consider the following:
- Boosting testing capacity locally, including mass testing, such as door-to-door schemes, to help identify chains of infection so that we can then shut those chains down through targeted action.
- To check that all appropriate support is in place locally to ensure that those infected are able to self-isolate without any barriers or financial worries.
- To rapidly build further on the vaccination roll-out so far to increase resilience against the virus in our community and to reduce transmission, which studies appear to suggest vaccination is helpful in achieving.
He undertook to go away and look at these various aspects urgently and would come back to us as quickly as possible. As soon as I hear more, I will be sure to provide further updates, here.
Of course, the Government has an important role to play in providing the right resources as part of the response, particularly around testing, but succeeding in driving down these infection rates also relies on people and businesses doing as much as they can, personally, to do the right thing and stick by the rules. I believe we owe it to each other to do just that and so many are doing so much as part of that endeavour. But I can again only re-emphasise the key message that we really need everyone to minimise their social contact unless absolutely essential, to work from home as much as possible if you can, and to isolate should you be required to do so.
On a related point, I asked the Chancellor when I saw him on Monday to review the support to facilitate people being able to self-isolate, and whether sufficient resources are available locally to achieve this, so that there are absolutely no excuses for not doing so. I should add here that ahead of his Budget statement today, I also relayed various other pieces of local feedback about the package of support for people and businesses in the context of the ‘roadmap’ period and I believe his announcement this afternoon has been responsive to much of this and I thank and congratulate him for it.
Ultimately, if we can drive these figures down locally, roll-out the vaccination programme to its conclusion and deliver the ‘roadmap’ safely in a gradual and irreversible manner, this should be the last ‘lockdown’ we have to experience - but everyone has to play their part in bringing those three strands together. I really think a big push now is well worth it and it will undoubtedly make a difference.