Statement from the Director of Public Health

Thursday 5 May marked the World Health Organisation’s World Hand Hygiene Day 2022. This year’s theme was ‘Unite for safety: Clean Your Hands’ and is focused on recognising the importance of handwashing to the safety culture of workplaces, and particularly to places where healthcare is provided. Everyone who washes their hands before or during a visit to a hospital, GP surgery or care home makes an important contribution to everyone’s safety, so thank you for getting involved.

While the basic hygiene message of remembering to wash your hands may seem like teaching your granny to suck eggs, it’s worth remembering that throughout the last two-and-half years of the pandemic good hand hygiene has been key in minimising the spread of infection. Hand Hygiene is one of the most effective actions to reduce the spread of pathogens and prevent infections, including the COVID-19 virus.

Hands touch many surfaces and can become contaminated with viruses and other germs. Once contaminated, hands can transfer these to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the germs can enter your body and infect you.
Washing or sanitising your hands removes viruses and other germs, so you are less likely to become infected if you touch your face. Using soap and water is the most effective way to clean your hands, especially if they are visibly dirty. Hand sanitiser can be used when soap and water are not available. You should do this regularly throughout the day.

In addition, wash your hands:

  • after coughing, sneezing and blowing your nose
  • before you eat or handle food
  • after coming into contact with surfaces touched by many others, such as handrails, and shared areas such as kitchens and bathrooms
  • when returning home.

These are sensible, everyday infection control measures and will also help curb the transmission of other common viruses such as cold and flu. Further information on reducing transmission can be found here.

The pandemic is also still with us, with reported rates of Covid fluctuating within the borough. Having doubled last week, rates have reduced to 142.5 per 100,000 population: around 60 people per day. However, this rate will be an underestimate in cases as free testing is no longer available to most people and estimates from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggest that around 4.1% of people are currently Covid-19 positive based on samples for North West from the ONS infection survey. Based on these estimates, around 12,000 people in Stockport. See the latest published data online.

To help protect yourself and your family, we have extended the pop-up vaccination clinic the end of May at One Stockport Hub (OSH), in the former Argos store, in Merseyway, SK1 1RA on Wednesdays and Thursdays, 9.30am to 5pm, and Saturday, 9.30am to 3.30pm for eligible cohorts aged 12 plus.

This is to facilitate the Covid 19 spring booster programme and anyone who has not yet had a first or second vaccination or booster in a convenient place to get boosted and stay protected from COVID-19. There’s a particular focus on booster vaccines for over 75s, and those aged 12 years and over who have a weakened immune system. An extra booster is beneficial for those at higher risk of severe coronavirus, because immunity derived from vaccination declines over time and many of the oldest adults received their most recent vaccine dose in September or October 2021.

In addition, children aged between 5 and 11 are also invited to get their first Covid vaccine at the One Stockport Hub from 9 am to 1pm on Saturdays. No appointment is necessary. Also, 5 to 11 years olds can book a vaccination every Sunday, from 8 May, from 9 to 6pm, at Trinity Methodist Church, 351 Bramhall Lane, Bramhall, SK3 8TP. Appointments must be booked in advance, as the clinic is not accepting walk-in appointments for children of this age, via the national booking website, or call 119 free of charge.

If you can’t make it to one of the pop-ups, GPs in Brinnington, Bramhall, Cheadle Hulme, Hazel Grove, High Lane, Marple and Reddish are inviting all their eligible patients aged 75+. Vaccinations are also being offered by some pharmacies and you can book your appointment via the National Booking Service oor by calling 119. The appointment dates you’ll be offered start from 3 months (91 days) after your previous dose, but booking an appointment around 6 months after your previous dose is preferable to get maximum protection from a spring booster.

Walk-in and booked appointments clinic are also available at Trinity Methodist Church, 351 Bramhall Lane, SK3 8TP, from Tuesday to Saturday, 9am to 6pm, and every Sunday, 9am to 3pm.

Full details of places to get a vaccination in Stockport, including many options available without prior booking, are on the CCG website.

So far, 87.4% of those aged 18+ and 87.1% of those aged 16 plus have received their first dose. Also, 85.4% of those aged 18+ and 84.7% of those aged 16 plus have received their second dose. Also, 64.6% of healthy 12–15-year-olds have had a first dose and 46% have had their second dose. In addition, 72.5% of the adult population have had a booster dose and 70.8% of those aged 16 plus.

While free PCR or lateral flow device testing is no longer be available for most people, they are still available to purchase, so if you do carry out an LFT test, please do continue to report the result.

If you do test positive, our advice is that adults should isolate for 5 days and children for 3 days. After this period, you can end your isolation if you feel well and don’t have a temperature but should avoid contact with anyone who might be particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 until 10 days after your positive test.

You can also still continue to 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
• Washing hands and following advice to “Catch it, Bin it, Kill it”.

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