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Coronavirus (COVID‑19) is spreading fast in Swindon. The Great Western Hospital (GWH) is today treating more COVID-19 patients than at any point in the pandemic so far.

That’s over 120 coronavirus patients including those in intensive care.

The GWH is battling with COVID-19 alongside all the existing 24/7 emergency health needs of our community, including residents suffering heart attacks, in need of cancer treatments or involved in road traffic accidents. For the first time this week, the hospital has had to cancel some non-urgent inpatient appointments.

The new variant of the virus is 50 to 70% more transmissible (spreadable) and we continue to see case numbers in Swindon rise – more than ten times where they were at the peak last August when Swindon was on the Government’s watchlist.

Swindon has seen 1,772 new COVID-19 cases in the last seven days, up from 725 new cases last Friday (01 January). Swindon’s seven-day rolling average case rate today is 642.2 per 100,000, the national average case rate is 636.6 per 100,000 and 383.4 per 100,000 in the South West.

The national lockdown currently in place follows a real risk that our NHS could be overwhelmed with the demands of treating a rising number of coronavirus patients, alongside all our usual treatment needs this winter.

Now more than ever: to show we value our NHS workers, recognise the tough job they’re doing and the life-saving and enhancing services they provide to us, we all need to follow the ‘Stay at home’ rules.

The single most important action we can all take is to stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives.

Let’s do it for our GWH

You have to meet certain eligibility rules to form a support or childcare bubble.

support bubble is a support network linking two households. You can form a support bubble with another household of any size only if you meet the eligibility rules.

You are permitted to leave your home to visit your support bubble (and to stay overnight with them). However, you should try to form a support bubble with a household who live locally to you.

If you live in a household with anyone aged under 14, you can form a childcare bubble. This allows friends or family from one other household to provide informal childcare.

You must not meet socially with your childcare bubble, and must avoid seeing members of your childcare and support bubbles at the same time.

Children are allowed to move between their parents households if they no longer live together.

Read the guidance for support bubbles and childcare bubbles here.

Coronavirus: Act like you’ve got it

You should only leave your home for the following reasons:

  • shopping for basic necessities, for you or a vulnerable person
  • going to work, or providing voluntary or charitable services, if you cannot reasonably do so from home
  • exercising with your household (or support bubble) or one other person, this should be limited to once per day, and you should not travel outside your local area
  • meeting your support bubble or childcare bubble
  • for a medical reason, including to get a COVID-19 test, for medical appointments and emergencies
  • seeking medical assistance or to avoid injury, illness or risk of harm (including domestic abuse)
  • attending education or childcare – for those eligible

New Guidance for People Classed as Extremely Clinically Vulnerable

If you are classed as clinically extremely vulnerable, you should begin to ‘shield’ again and stay at home as much as possible.

This means you should not leave your home for work, to go shopping or to pick up prescriptions. You are able to leave your home to exercise outdoors and, unlike back in March, the rest of your household do not need to shield. If you haven’t already, you should receive a letter from the NHS detailing the advice you should follow to protect yourself.

  • Sign up to the national database to get priority access to food delivery slots and request support picking up prescriptions.
  • If you are in urgent need of food or essentials and you do not have the funds to pay or anyone to support you, find out if you’re eligible for the emergency assistance fund.
  • Community pharmacies are offering free deliveries of prescriptions.
  • If you have no friends or family to stay in touch with, we may be able to link you to one of our volunteer telephone befrienders who can offer a regular check in and chat. The NHS Responders can do this too.
  • You are also eligible to receive four months of free Vitamin D supplements through the NHS. You’ll need to register for this by 11 January.

In the next few days, you’ll receive a letter from the Government, we’ll also be writing out to those who are new to shielding as well as contacting those who got in touch with us in November.

The NHS is currently offering the COVID-19 vaccine to people most at risk from coronavirus including:

  • people aged 80 and over, who will already have a hospital appointment in the next few weeks
  • people who live or work in care homes
  • health and social care workers at high risk

You will be contacted directly by the NHS when it is your turn to book your coronavirus vaccination. You should not contact your GP or turn up at a vaccination site without an appointment. Find out more about the COVID-19 vaccination

Beware of COVID scams

In recent weeks a number of attempted COVID-19 related scams have emerged across the country, including:

  • people receiving text messages informing them that they are ‘eligible’ to apply for a vaccine and then asking them to provide bank details
  • people receiving text messages that claim to be from the HMRC inviting them to claim for a ‘grant’
  • scammers looking to take advantage of businesses applying for business grants

Never provide your bank details in response to any email, phone call or text from anyone claiming to be part of the NHS vaccine programme. Bank details, passwords and pin numbers will never be requested as the COVID-19 vaccine is free and this should be an automatic red flag.

Home School Resources

Juggling work, childcare and home schooling can seem like a daunting task but there are plenty of resources available to help you support your child with their remote learning.

Many schools already pay for online resources, so it may be worth checking with your child’s school which ones you can access from home. There are also plenty of free resources available to you through BBC Bitesize, BBC Teach and Oak Academy.

From Monday (11 January), the BBC will be airing educational programmes for primary school students on CBBC and for secondary school students on BBC Two. You can find out more information here.

Joe Wicks will also be resuming PE with Joe at 9am every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 11 January.

Recycling Guide

We’re offering additional recycling services in January to help you get rid of the extra waste you may have produced over Christmas and New Year.

Our crews will be collecting your real Christmas trees for recycling throughout January. Make sure all lights and decorations are removed and that the tree can be lifted safely by two people. If the tree is very large, cut it down into manageable pieces. To find out when our crews will be collecting in your area, visit our website and check under the heading ‘Garden’. You do not need to be a garden waste subscriber to use this service.

We will also be collecting extra recycling between now and the end of January. All you need to do is present it in a sturdy container and leave it next to your recycling boxes by 6.30am on the day of your collection. The containers do not have to be council branded.

Covid-19 FAQs

With England now in national lockdown, it’s crucial we all know and understand how to keep ourselves and others safe. Find the answers to frequently asked questions here: