Update on Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council’s response to Coronavirus (COVID-19) from the Council’s Leader, Councillor Bob Cook.
Our weekly COVID-19 dashboard has unfortunately shown a sharp rise in infections this week.
There were 822 new cases for the week ending January 3, a rate of 416.5 per 100,000.
That’s a marked increase on the 503 cases recorded the previous week, a rate of 254.9 per 100,000 population.
These rises are very concerning and are consistent with the national picture, which shows a rate of 581.6 per 100,000 for the same period.
What’s also of concern is confirmation from public health colleagues that cases of the new, more contagious strain of Coronavirus have been detected in the Tees Valley.
We must take this very seriously.
An appeal to parents and carers
Tonight, I’m making an appeal to all parents and carers in Stockton-on-Tees to, wherever possible, keep your children at home.
Schools across the Borough are providing home learning while continuing to accommodate vulnerable children and children of critical workers in school, but the overall number of pupils in school is significantly higher than in previous lockdowns. The risk of infection does of course increase with in-school learning, hence this appeal to follow the Department for Education guidance and keep your children at home if you are able to, and help us slow the spread of the virus.
Testing for residents without COVID-19 symptoms
On Wednesday (6 January), we opened the first of three test centres for people without Covid-19 symptoms who live or work in the Borough. The aim of this free testing is to identify people who have COVID-19 so that they know to isolate.
This first centre, located at a marquee at the rear of Splash in Stockton, is taking appointments now but they must be booked in advance online via www.stockton.gov.uk/coronavirus/testing
The centre at Splash is open seven days a week (8am to 4pm – Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday / 10am to 6pm – Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday).
Two more sites to test people without symptoms are due to open at Thornaby Pavilion on Wednesday, January 13 and at Billingham Forum on Wednesday, January 20.
We are continuing to work with businesses, local GP surgeries and staff in Allensway, the Halcyon Centre, Community Transport, One Call and informal carers to carry out targeted lateral flow testing.
Help for people who are struggling financially
We appreciate that a lot of people are struggling financially and there’s lots of information on our website about welfare support, the £500 Test and Trace support payments, housing support, help with Council Tax, and the Hardship Fund.
You can find this on our webpage at www.stockton.gov.uk/coronavirus/financialsupport
Help for vulnerable and elderly people
The COVID Community Support Team can help vulnerable and elderly residents by collecting shopping, picking up prescriptions or making sure people who are self-isolating and may be worried or lonely get the support they need.
You can contact the team on 01642 733906 between 9am and 12noon, Monday to Friday, or by emailing [email protected]
Help for businesses
The Government recently announced a new grant of up to £9,000 for businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors that have had to close under the national restrictions and an additional discretionary fund to support other businesses who have been impacted.
We’re waiting for further detail from the Government on both of these grants and we will process payments as soon as we have that information.
You can find details of all of the business grants and financial support that is available for businesses at www.stockton.gov.uk/coronavirus/businesssupport.
Remember, you can keep up with all Coronavirus (COVID-19) related developments in the Borough, including details of the help and support available, via our webpage www.stockton.gov.uk/coronavirus