Latest message from Cllr John Lodge, Leader of Uttlesford District Council - 25 January 2021

The latest weekly report on Covid data in Essex showed a welcome reduction in the infection rate in Uttlesford. However, whilst this is a positive step in the right direction, it is important to note that the rate of infection is still significantly higher than it was in the first wave of the virus, and that our local health services are under considerable strain. It is critical that we continue to do all we can to drive down the infection rate. Please - don't drop your guard now. Act as if you have the virus, even if you have been vaccinated. Continue to work from home if you can and, if you must go out, remember that the hands, face, space message is just as relevant now as it has been throughout this pandemic.

The Covid-19 vaccination efforts across Essex are well underway, with thousands of people vaccinated already. But it is no quick fix. Priority groups will be up first, and we must be considerate and patient as we all wait our turn. It is important that you do not contact the NHS to seek a vaccine - they will contact you when it is your turn. And if you are contacted, please do attend your appointment - put simply, the vaccine is life-saving and the best way to protect people from coronavirus.

If you would like to get involved in the vaccination roll-out, volunteers are currently needed to help the programme run smoothly in Essex. There are a range of roles available and you can find out more on the Essex Coronavirus Action Facebook page.

Alongside the vaccination programme, community testing remains an important part of the fight against this virus. Our teams have been busy distributing Covid-19 home testing kits as part of a pilot project to identity people who not do have symptoms, to ensure they self-isolate and stop the spread. The two sites - one in Great Dunmow, the other in Saffron Walden - for people to pick up a PCR home testing kit will still be available until Thursday (28 January) or until stocks last. They will then remain open until 4 February for people to drop-off their completed tests. Updates on the scheme will be posted on this website and the council's social media channels.

The government's approach to community testing has shifted towards rapid testing, so it is good news to see the introduction of a new fast testing centre for Uttlesford residents. Lateral Flow Tests, which are only for people who do not have symptoms, give results in around 30 minutes. This approach to testing will help to identify the hidden cases in the community quicker, and allow people to self-isolate and stop the spread of the virus. It is a booking-only system and I would encourage residents to make an appointment - details are on the Essex County Council website.

Finally, this is a difficult time for everyone. If you know someone who needs help due to the Covid-19 pandemic, please do pass on details of the Uttlesford Community Response Hub. Whether it's a volunteer to collect shopping or medicines, befriending or signposting to other services, the hub is ready and waiting to help. Call 03333 408 218 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 4pm) or email communityresponse@uttlesford.gov.uk.

25 January 2021

Videos