I know how tough it has been for everyone and in our community and it is also a time to thank the people of Stockport for all they have done over the past two years during this pandemic, reflect on our collective loss, think of those who have been bereaved and hope for a brighter year ahead.
Seeing how our community has adapted, gone above and beyond, and helped each other has been an inspiration, as have our frontline key workers who rose to the challenge under such extreme conditions.
To honour this day, we will be holding a minute’s silence at 12 noon and calling on colleagues and residents to take a time in the planned silence organised by Marie Curie for who have died during the pandemic. The Council will also be lighting up the Town Hall blue and green and flying the flag at half-mast.
The charity is also inviting people to wear a daffodil or display a vase of the spring flowers in a window as a small gesture of support and show solidarity to someone who is grieving and help them feel less alone.
The Council’s online memorial book (http://www.condolence.website/) will offer the opportunity to pay tribute to loved ones who have died from COVID-19. For further support and guidance, including bereavement support, you can visit the Healthy Stockport website. Greater Manchester Bereavement Service can help find support for anyone in Greater Manchester that is bereaved or affected by a death – no matter how long it’s been. You can find out more on their website.
Even for those who have not been bereaved, it is important to continue to look after your own wellbeing, not just physically, but also mentally and socially, and to look out for each other. The well-known 5 Ways to Wellbeing provide good pointers to help maintain our wellbeing in a balanced way. If you want to explore local offers including available support, please visit Healthy Stockport or our emotional wellbeing and mental health support pages; feel free to share these resources with others in your networks.
Meanwhile, rates in Stockport are rising rapidly again and cases are currently at 647.9* per 100,000 population: around 271.6 people per day. This rise is likely to be an underestimate in cases as people are testing less frequently. Hospitalisations are also rising again. See the latest published data online.
While protections have been lifted legally, the pandemic is far from over and we still need to do our best to help keep the most vulnerable to the virus safe, including the elderly and immunosuppressed.
The best way you can do this is by getting vaccinated and keeping up with basic methods to stem the transmission.
So, please continue adapt your behaviour to reduce the risk of catching and passing on COVID-19 by:
• Getting vaccinated
• Letting fresh air in if meeting indoors, or meeting outside
• Wearing a face covering in crowded and enclosed spaces, especially where coming into contact with people they do not usually meet and when rates of transmission are high
• Trying to stay at home if unwell
• Taking a test if displaying COVID-19 symptoms, and staying at home and avoiding contact with other people if testing positive
• Washing hands and following advice to “Catch it, Bin it, Kill it”.
The guidance on what you can do to keep yourself and others safe outlines these measures well.
Remember if you do test positive for Covid, the best advice to help stem the spread is that you should still self-isolate for five days and beyond, until you have received two negative tests on consecutive days.
Until 1 April free Lateral Flow Device and PCR testing for the public are still available. LFD tests can be ordered online, or picked up at many local libraries, Stockport pharmacies and at Fred Perry House. From April, there will be some ongoing free testing for a small number of at-risk groups, which the government will outline later.
With Easter school holidays in less than a month, if you’re lucky enough to be jetting off abroad, remember to make sure you comply with travel rules of your destination by checking the entry requirements for any other countries you wish to visit. You’ll find up-to-date information on what you need to do on your return on gov.uk.
Our vaccination programme in Stockport is still going well and, so far, 87.4% of those aged 18+ and 73.3% of those aged 16 and 17 have received their first dose. Also, 85.1% of those aged 18+ and 56.0% of those aged 16 and 17 have received their second dose. Also, 63.4% of healthy 12–15-year-olds have had a first dose and 38.1% have had their second dose. In addition, 71.4% of the adult population have had a booster dose and 13.1% of those aged 16 and 17.
Anyone not yet fully vaccinated is encouraged to book their vaccination via the national booking system online, or by calling 119. Full details of places to get a vaccination in Stockport, including many options available without prior booking, are on the CCG website. There is a vaccination clinic taking place for first, second and booster doses on Thursday, 24 March, from 10am to 12pm at the Olive Cafe, 88-90 Castle Street, Edgeley, SK3 9AL. You can also use the walk-in clinic at Trinity Methodist Church, 351 Bramhall Lane, SK3 8TP, from 8am to 6pm, 7 days a week.