Published: Wednesday, 19th May 2021
"But the misreporting and misinformation I am reading only serves to cause fear and panic," said Cllr Danny Thorpe, Leader of the Royal Borough of Greenwich.
"That is why I want all residents to be fully informed and know the facts so we can make decisions to protect ourselves, our friends and our loved ones.
"And let’s not get ahead of ourselves. It’s great that we are in Step 3 in the roadmap out of lockdown, but it won’t be until Step 4 that the remaining measures are lifted, if all goes well in the meantime.
"So please get vaccinated, get tested and know the facts – we can and are saving lives. Thank you.”
In the UK, the rate of new COVID-19 cases remains low. However, in some areas we are seeing an increase including parts of London (particularly in the north west of the city) and other parts of the country.
These new cases include a significant number of new variants, especially the variant believed to have originated in India.
Viruses mutate and change, with dominant strains adapting over time. That’s why scientists around the world are working flat out to create vaccines that address this.
There is no evidence that the variant of the virus originating from India causes more serious disease or is resistant to the vaccine. However, all variants pose a risk to vulnerable people including those who have not been vaccinated, the elderly and those with underlying health conditions.
Some new variants may be more infectious than other variants circulating in the UK. That means it is easier to catch the virus if you come into close contact with someone who has the infection.
In Royal Greenwich, an in-depth follow-up is carried out when any positive cases of variants are detected to identify where the person may have picked up the infection and anyone else they have had close contact with who might have infected. Close contacts are then offered testing and required to isolate for ten days.
In all London boroughs, diagnosed positive cases of COVID-19 are now sent to a lab for genetic testing to ascertain whether the virus is a variant or not.
People returning from high risk countries where variants are most common are now required to stay in quarantine hotels for ten days and to undertake testing.
The NHS is well placed to care for people with COVID-19 and is not seeing any increases in the number of patients due to variants at present. In Queen Elizabeth Hospital, there are currently no patients in intensive care with COVID-19 related illness. With your help we can keep it that way.
What we are doing at the Royal Borough of Greenwich
To date, over 113,000 residents have had their first dose of the vaccine and 73,000 their second.
However, we need everyone aged 18 years and above to get vaccinated so we are stepping up our vaccination programme as quickly as possible and urging all residents who are invited to take up the vaccine at the earliest opportunity.
Working with the NHS and our partners, we will be providing more pop-up vaccination clinics in community venues and use mobile vaccination facilities like the vaccination bus, which you may have spotted in locations across the borough.
Look out for details about our new fast-track vaccination programme coming soon.
The vaccine is now available to people aged 36 and over, with 35-year-olds expected to be invited by the end of this week.
You can book appointments at a larger vaccination centre or pharmacy or wait to be invited to go to a local NHS service - book online.