Ansaf Azhar message: Lifting of national COVID-19 restrictions and rising cases in Oxfordshire
Hi everyone. I'm Ansaf Azhar. I'm the Director of Public Health for Oxfordshire.
And, today I want to talk a little bit about our current situation beyond 19th July. So, for many of us 19th July signals the lifting of restrictions, easing of lockdown and a bit of light at the end of the tunnel. And I agree with this. We've had a rough 18 months. But we are starting to see some positives. The vaccination programme across the country has been massively successful. It has helped to weaken the link between rising cases and those who are actually getting admitted to hospital with severe illness with COVID-19. So, that is good news.
So, in Oxfordshire we have delivered over 868,000 vaccinations. 360,000 second doses. So, a big thank you for everyone who was involved in this massive, massively successful effort, and for those who came forward to have their vaccination. If you haven't had your vaccination, please do come forward, have your jab. It'll help to protect yourself and your community, and your loved ones around you. It's simple, safe and you can get it done very, very quickly.
However, despite all this, we are still seeing case rates rising across the county. Rises that we're seeing in the city recently and the rises that we're seeing currently in the rest of the county are real examples of the fact that the pandemic is still alive. So, we're asking everyone as we move away from regulation to more towards personal responsibility, to maintain some of the good habits that we have developed over the last 18 months. Simple, pragmatic, common sense approach to help contain this pandemic and reduce the spread. So, I ask everyone to continue to keep your distance, social distance where possible. Try and meet people outdoors. Think about who you're meeting. Are you meeting vulnerable people? And, if you can't do any of those things, if you can't maintain social distance, please do wear a face-covering. I strongly recommend you do wear a face-covering in crowded and enclosed settings, like the public transport, in buses and trains, so that you can protect yourself and provide the assurance to others these sectors are safe.
In addition to all this, I would also encourage you to come and get tested frequently. It is a good way of checking if you've got COVID-19. And if you do, you can self-isolate and break the chain of transmission to others, which will ultimately help to reduce COVID-19 in the community. There are many, many testing provisions available, from online to libraries, pharmacies and so on. So, come and get tested and it'll help to reduce the spread of the pandemic.
I know many of you have all been doing this for a long time, and I understand that. This is not about taking the fun away. This is not about stopping you from doing the things you want to do. This is about continuing things in a safe and pragmatic, sensible way. So, all of you have already been doing this, and I want to say a big thank you.
We need to continue with this a little longer so we can all return back to some sense of normality.
Thank you very much.
With cases still high across the county, it’s recommended we continue cautiously.
Whilst most legal requirements have now been lifted, there are some simple steps you can follow to help protect you and those you love:
- Hands – wash your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use hand sanitiser if soap and water are not available.
- Face – wear a face covering in enclosed or crowded spaces.
- Space – give people space.
- Use the NHS COVID-19 app to help control the spread of the virus (available on the Apple App Store and Google Play).
Government guidance can be accessed in 60 languages on the Doctors of the World website.
Find out about confirmed cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Oxfordshire.
If you have coronavirus symptoms
If you have symptoms of coronavirus, or if you someone you live with has symptoms, then you must stay at home (self-isolate). This helps stop the virus spreading to other people. You must also get a test as soon as possible.
Visit the NHS website for guidance on when and how to self-isolate and how to get an isolation note to show your employer if you are unable to work.
You will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace if you test positive for coronavirus. You will be asked where you have been recently and who you have been in close contact with. This will help the NHS contact anyone who may have caught the virus from you and determine whether they need to self-isolate.
If you have a query or wish to provide feedback or complain about any element of the test and trace process, you can do so online.
Local contact tracing system
A local contact tracing team is in place to contact those who have recently tested positive for COVID-19 but have not yet been reached by the national NHS test and trace system.
This service is running seven days a week, with calls coming from the council using a local (01865) phone number. Text messages and emails will also be sent to people telling them to expect a call and giving you a number to call us back with if you’d prefer.
We will give advice on how to isolate for those who are aged 18 or over and have not been vaccinated as well as advice on how to access local financial or social support. You will also be asked about your close contacts so they can then be followed up by the national team.
If we can’t reach you by phone, we’ll pass your details to the local district or city council team who will visit you at home, and deliver a letter explaining why we’re trying to get in touch. They’ll also explain how to contact our local call handlers.
The person visiting you will always show their ID. We will never ask you to divulge any financial details during track and trace enquiries.
Find more information on what to do if you think you might have COVID-19 symptoms.