If the brakes are not put on the virus very soon, there will be little easing of restrictions when the current national lockdown ends on December 2. If our area is placed in Tier Three, this will not be much different in terms of the extent and impact of restrictions to the current lockdown.
Growing numbers of people with COVID are needing hospital treatment. Sadly, growing numbers of people are not surviving the virus. Local health services are under serious pressure and as winter tightens its grip, curbs on where we can go and who we can meet will need to stay in place to ensure that anything other than the most urgent care and treatment can continue to be provided.
North East Lincolnshire has gone from having the lowest infection rate in England to one of the highest. At the beginning of August many people in our area could not have named anyone they know who has had the virus. Three months later and COVID is now a reality here and is touching the lives of most people in one way or another.
“Up until recently we were very fortunate in North East Lincolnshire to have avoided the outbreaks, the pressured intensive care wards, the exhausted, shell-shocked health and care staff and the numbers of deaths that other parts of the country suffered,” said Dr Ekta Elston, Medical Director for NHS North East Lincolnshire CCG.
“People were asked to stay home, save lives and protect the NHS. As we watched this tragedy unfold on TV, here in North East Lincolnshire you heeded that call and helped to keep the virus out of our communities.
“Sadly, in the second wave of this pandemic, this is now becoming a reality for us. We all need to take action, now. To make sure we are sticking to the rules and following the advice to the letter. We can turn the situation around and prevent the tragic scenes that broke our hearts in the spring; to avoid months of life under strict restrictions. However, it will take a determined effort from every one of us.”
Dr Kate Wood, Medical Director of Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust says cases in our region are rising quickly and she expects that to continue over the next week or so: “We may be a week into the national lockdown but we are not yet seeing the full impact of this on our hospitals due to the time it takes for people to start showing symptoms and their condition worsening to the point where they need to be in hospital.
“The pressure on the hospital is much worse than in wave one, we are seeing many more patients requiring specialist treatment and more and more of our staff are being affected, either because they or someone they live with has the virus or they have been told to self isolate. We are doing everything we can to support our staff but they are really starting to feel the strain; both emotionally and physically.
“We are having to make difficult decisions in the hospital on a daily basis, including cancelling some people’s planned surgery. This is not something we take lightly but if we don’t all do what we can to prevent the spread of coronavirus it is inevitable that more and more people will have procedures postponed or experience a long wait when they visit our emergency departments. If you are tiring of the restrictions, please think of the impact not adhering to them could have on your family and friends if they require treatment in the coming weeks.
“We want to be here for every patient that needs us, but we have to prioritise those who most urgently need our medical attention. Every year in the NHS we brace ourselves for winter, but we are not into winter yet and we already have long waits in our A&Es with patients waiting for beds to become available. You may have heard that last weekend we declared a major incident at our trust; this virus is very much here and present in our local communities and we are feeling the impact.
“We are doing everything we can in the NHS to tackle this virus. Whilst the news of a possible vaccine this week was encouraging, we don’t expect one to be widely available until 2021. Now is not the time to be complacent, we have to act. You can help us by doing three simple things. We all know this by now; we should be washing our hands regularly, keeping a safe distance from others and covering our faces when we can’t.”
Dr Peter Melton, Clinical Chief Officer for NHS North East Lincolnshire CCG, added:
“You may perceive that your personal risk of dying or coming to harm from COVID is very low but please appreciate your actions could pose a major risk to your family, friends and neighbours. For the next few weeks please remember that you have been asked to give up some of your normal personal rights and share responsibility to reduce the spread of this terrible disease in our community.”
Director of Public Health for North East Lincolnshire Stephen Pintus feels some members of the public have not caught up with the worsening situation and are still behaving in a way that is enabling the virus to infect others.
“The virus thrives on people being together,” said Mr Pintus. “Whenever you risk a visit to someone’s home, meet up with a group of people or relax with colleagues at work, you could unknowingly be allowing it to run riot through that group and everyone they go on to meet until it comes across someone who cannot fight it and becomes seriously ill.
“Please don’t be that link. Act now to break the chain.”
Under the current national lockdown we should all stay at home as much as we can. When we do need to go out we must:
- Maintain social distancing
- Wear a face covering in indoor public spaces
- Wash our hands frequently and use hand sanitiser when out and about – for example, before we touch items in the supermarket.
- Monitor ourselves for symptoms and self isolate and get a test at the earliest opportunity.
- Do not leave the house if we are told to self isolate by NHS Test and Trace.
“While the prospect of us returning to anything like normality in December is not looking likely, nothing is set in stone,” said Mr Pintus. “The local authority and NHS are working extremely hard to fight this virus. However, the real battle is on the streets and in our communities. We all have the power to change the direction our area is moving in by following the guidance and making a few sacrifices.”
If you have concerns about COVID-19
It’s understandable if you’re feeling down or anxious about what the coming months might hold for all of us. If you need to talk to someone – no matter how minor your problems may feel to you – please ring the 24/7 coronavirus support line on (01472) 256256 and select option 3. You don’t have to wait for things to get really bad, there is someone there who wants to listen. Visit: navigocare.co.uk/247covid