It’s almost 20 weeks since the start of lockdown, and with many Rye shops and restaurants open for business for increasingly large numbers of visitors, some could be forgiven for wondering where we are with the pandemic.
One statistic from the World Health Organisation this week was sobering. “There is a Covid related death every 15 seconds somewhere in the globe”. This came at the same time as some of the UK Press speculated that many coming to the coast for either day visits or for “staycation” are of the mindset that that they are escaping from Covid-19 and in particular the necessary “mitigations” (social separation, hand washing and face coverings).
With large crowds visiting local beaches – more are expected with the next round of forecast hot weather this weekend – we risk that, as we get back to business, people visiting Rye and District may be from places where infection rates are higher. And one lesson of the pandemic is that travel increases transmission.
Looking at data for the south east, from the Office of National Statistics and Public Health England, the position with infections remains little changed from last week. Nationally the slight “uptick” for the last week in July is attributed to infections in the so called hotspots in the north. But local data does not easily indicate the full picture because infections are linked to home addresses rather than work places. And for Rye and District many travel to work.
Education first, or jobs?
Against the background advice from the Chief Medical Officer last week that in England we were “at the outer edge of what we can do” in term of easing lockdown, with one month to go before many schools open, some experts including the Children’s Commissioner are calling for priority to go for schools to open, even if that means that other locations such as pubs and shops should close.
Along with more discussion about the need for furlough to be continued, measures to help the unemployed and struggling business, we can expect to hear a lot more of this in the coming days.
With the NHS reporting that Covid-19 is causing delays to the diagnosis and treatment for people suffering from non-Covid conditions such as cancer and diabetes, in Rye it is reassuring to know that it is possible to secure a video consultation with a doctor or an appointment with a dentist.
With a vaccine some way off, an effective and wide-scale test and trace system, along with continued use of the “mitigations”, are seen to be the way to keep control of infections. The national test and trace system where some 20% of those tested are not traced is resulting in some local authorities developing their own tracing systems. A new 90 minute test has been reported and such equipment, if proved successful, could transform testing.
Continuing fears about safety
Despite the easing of lockdown, a large number of Rye’s 50 or so voluntary organisations remain closed. These depend on many volunteers, who are mature and with lingering concerns about the risk often because of underlying health conditions. It is hoped that as we ease further and community support commitments reduce, some of the many hundreds of younger volunteers who have committed to Rye Mutual Aid (RMA) (Ryemutualaid.org) for community support, will find the time to help other existing social enterprises.
What is clear is that as uncertainty continues, it is important that everyone continues to do their bit to help control the virus. In particular, when away from home:
- Keep washing or sanitising hands regularly;
- In enclosed spaces, wear a face covering over nose and mouth;
- Stay at least a metre away from people not of your household.
Feeling unwell? Do you have a fever, cough or loss of taste or smell? If so, seek a test and stay at home.
Image Credits: Anthony Kimber , UK Government .