Today we expect to find out which of the three revised Covid alert tiers Swindon will be placed in when lockdown comes to an end next Wednesday.

This latest month-long lockdown has been a challenge for all of us, but we are beginning to see positive signs in terms of our local case rate with less people having tested positive for the virus over the last few days.

From a peak of over 200 Covid-19 cases per 100,000 of the local population a couple of weeks ago, our case rate as of yesterday had fallen to 142.7, which is significantly below the national average (207.1).

We want to see our case rate continue to fall and, if the Government decides we need to be at the Tier 2 ‘high alert’ level, then we will fully support that view. The restrictions have shown they are working so there is a good argument that we need to maintain additional restrictions to keep up that momentum.

Our key focus is ensuring that as many people as possible continue to follow the ‘Hands. Face. Space. Ventilate. Isolate’ guidance so we do not overwhelm our local hospital.

Tomorrow we will be launching a joint campaign with Great Western Hospital, which will reinforce the message to local people that everyone needs to play their part to keep our case rate down.

By helping to stop the spread of coronavirus, we can help free up precious hospital beds to provide the vital medical care and treatment we depend on. GWH is currently very busy caring for an increased number of patients with Covid-19, along with a large number of patients being treated for other conditions. The hospital has converted some existing wards to provide specialist Covid-19 care, which has put significant pressure on hospital staff and services.

With Christmas on the horizon and the mass rollout of a vaccine still some months away, the Council and hospital are calling on local residents to pay extra attention to public health guidance in order to reduce the Borough’s case rate, protect the local hospital and allow staff to provide the care to all those who need it.

Just because someone may be a family member or friend, doesn’t mean that they don’t have Covid so we cannot relax for a moment.

We learned this week from the Prime Minister how families will be able to form an exclusive Christmas bubble made up of people from no more than three households.

Although the rules will be momentarily eased somewhat for this special time of year, we must not allow ourselves to think that the virus has gone away. We will still be dealing with it as we head into the new year and keeping our focus now will help us in the long run.

Off the back of the campaign launch, our director of public health, Steve Maddern, and the Chief Executive of GWH, Kevin McNamara, will be jointly hosting a live Facebook Q&A tomorrow at 5pm.

Steve will be updating viewers on the latest Covid-19 statistics for Swindon and our ongoing response to the pandemic and Kevin will describe how Great Western Hospital is responding to the recent increase in hospital admissions.

If you would like to find out more about the Covid-19 picture here in Swindon please do tune in on the council’s Facebook page for the Q&A tomorrow.