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Executive Leader Cllr Brenda Warrington

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Councillor Brenda Warrington, Executive Leader of Tameside Council

A New Breakthrough Against Coronavirus

Friday, 18 December 2020

I’m delighted to be able to start this week’s blog with some excellent news about our struggle against the coronavirus pandemic.

On Wednesday morning the first Tameside residents began to receive doses of the new vaccine. Since supplies are still limited, we have focused as per advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation on those who are the most vulnerable to severe complications from the virus. Two of the first in line were Mary, 80, from Dukinfield and Brian, 84, from Hyde. Both praised our NHS and key workers and said that receiving the vaccine will make them more confident in going out and starting to live their lives again.

 

We now intend to roll out the vaccine to the very elderly, frontline health and social care workers and those with underlying health conditions, and I promise that we will keep you updated on how that process is going every step of the way. That being said, even with our incredible health and social care staff working as hard as they can to get the vaccine out as quickly as possible, in the here and now we still need to continue protecting ourselves and those around us.

We were given a reminder of this yesterday as it was confirmed that Greater Manchester would remain in Tier 3 of coronavirus restrictions. I know this is disappointing for many people. However, the latest data from the Department of Health and Social Care suggests that while infection rates in Greater Manchester have fallen considerably, they may now be plateauing or even increasing slightly. With a week to go until Christmas and the possibility of a spike in cases due to people moving around for the holidays, I accept that it may be best to err on the side of caution for the moment.

That being said I still believe that much of the financial support offered by the government, especially for businesses and the self-employed, remains woefully inadequate. This is particularly true in Greater Manchester since we have been under relatively more severe coronavirus restrictions than the rest of the country for a far longer period of time. I also believe that we must look at increasing the help available for people who have been told to self-isolate, as many have reported that the £500 payment currently available is insufficient to prevent financial hardship. There are concerns as well that parents on low incomes whose children have been asked to self-isolate are not eligible for payments as the criteria currently stands. This has been addressed in Scotland and Wales by their devolved governments, but no such change has been made in England so far. Forcing people to choose between following the law and putting food on the table will only undermine our ability to control the spread of coronavirus at this most critical time.

 

The weeks running up to and immediately after Christmas are when I normally also ask residents to keep an eye on neighbours or relatives who may be elderly and vulnerable, and this year is no different. While coronavirus is unquestionably the gravest public health challenge we face at the moment, cold and loneliness can bring their own dangers too. Something as simple as a socially-distanced knock on the door or a phone call to check that they are okay could make all the difference.

While we still have some way to go until we can all put this terrible pandemic behind us, I am confident when I say that it’s now possible to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Despite the sacrifices we have all had to make over the past nine months, we have proven beyond any doubt the resilience of Tameside and our communities. I know that it is this resilience that will carry us to the end of the pandemic, and drive us to build back a better future for all of us.   

 

Posted by: Executive Leader


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