Bristol residents urged to “take action” as coronavirus rates rise

City leaders and health bosses have issued a statement following rising coronavirus rates – saying Bristol must prepare for what is likely to be “a very challenging winter.”

They say lives and livelihoods are being disrupted once again – and “the virus is thriving as people gather indoors and the cold weather sets in.”

And they are urging people to take precautions – including wearing a face covering in shops, on public transport and indoors and meeting people outdoors.

Bristol’s current rate of infection is *764 cases per 100,000 population with the England average 489 per 100,000. There have been 3,559 new cases in the city over the last seven days – and the South West is now the worst hit region in the country.

But the leaders stress with the roll out of the vaccination programme “we are not in the same place we were last year” with many more people having a “strong layer of protection against becoming severely unwell from the virus.”

Some 336,839 (77 per cent) of people in Bristol aged over 16 have had one or more doses of the vaccine – but this doesn’t mean the virus can’t be passed on to others – with “many of the city’s younger population, frontline workers and those most vulnerable are still at risk of becoming unwell.”

In a joint statement Bristol COVID-19 Local Engagement Board, Health Protection Advisory Group and Bristol City Partners say: “…The virus continues to circulate widely in our communities, impacting individuals, families, businesses and some of our most vulnerable communities and, together, we must take action…

“Bristol must prepare for what is likely to be a very challenging winter – for us as individuals and families, but also for our NHS and social care colleagues, our schools, universities and colleges and our local business.

“Our frontline NHS and health staff are still under considerable pressure, and we ask that you be patient with staff in hospitals, surgeries or care homes, where pressures are resulting in longer waits – they are doing their best in tough circumstances…”

The statement says Bristol “expects and strongly recommends” the adoption of simple precautionary measures to protect us all. These are:

  • If you are unwell, reduce the spread of infection by recovering at home.
  • If you have symptoms of COVID-19, self-isolate at home and book a PCR test.
  • Make use of the offer of free lateral flow (rapid) testing – uptake in Bristol has been very high which is really positive.
  • Wear a face covering (unless exempt) – in crowded areas like supermarkets and in shops, on public transport and indoor settings.
  • Respect one another’s space – mild illness for you could be very serious for someone else, so please think of others when you’re out and about.
  • Meet outdoors where you are able, or if you’re meeting indoors, make sure to open a window or door to let in blasts of fresh air – this is particularly important when you’re meeting or socialising with people or family members who may be more vulnerable to severe illness.
  • If you are invited for your annual flu jab, or you’re contacted about a COVID-19 booster vaccination, do not delay in booking your appointment. 
  • Take additional precautions and consider the risks of visiting elderly people or family members in care homes.
  • We expect and recommend people be kind and empathetic towards one another – we are all in this together, and must support one another through what is likely to be another tough winter.

It ends: “Thank you for everything you have done and continue to do to protect our city.”

*Figures from Bristol City Council.