People in Oxford are being urged to stay at home, avoid mixing with other households, and abide by the lockdown rules to the letter to curb the rapid spread of COVID-19 in the county.
The stark national and local figures mean that things are not going to improve unless people observe the lockdown rules in full. In Oxford the latest figures (13 Jan 2021) show Blackbird Leys, Rose Hill and Littlemore all have over 1000 cases per 100,000 people – among the highest rates in the country.
“These figures are a shocking reminder that the virus is right here on our doorsteps, Oxford families are getting sick and people are losing loved ones. Every time you flex the rules or mix with people when you don’t need to, you’re adding to the risk in your community.
“Our NHS staff are battling to save lives every day, the best way we can help them is to stay at home. When you have to go out, follow the rules on wearing a face covering and give other people space. This really is up to every single one of us to make sure we don’t spread the virus.
“Anyone can be vulnerable, we’re hearing of young people dying or having their health devastated by the disease. Please don’t make the mistake of thinking you can take a risk, we all have to make hard choices to protect each other. I want to thank the vast majority of people who are following the guidance, and remind everyone that we have a part to play in this pandemic. It takes courage and strength to keep following the guidance when we’re tired and life is stressful, those who do are the brave ones in our communities. Together we can do this.”
Councillor Louise Upton, Oxford City Council Cabinet Member for Safer, Healthy Oxford
“The prevalence of COVID in Oxfordshire is higher than it has ever been. We are in a worse position than at the height of the first wave last spring, and the situation is continuing to deteriorate.
“We are aware that people are fed up and want an end to all of this, but this is an exceptionally serious situation – we are in the eye of the storm. The vaccine will not start to have an influence for some weeks and so the only weapon we have against this virus is to stay at home and avoid mixing with people outside of our households. We are dealing with a new variant that is extremely infectious and therefore need to be even more careful than last spring.
“COVID-19 loves crowds. Only go shopping when it is essential, shop alone and shop local, keep two metres apart from others and remember that outdoor exercise is only allowed once per day. Being out and about presents a real risk, so limit the time you are out of the house and take every precaution. One in three people with COVID don’t know they have it so act like you’ve got it to reduce the spread. We need people to hear that message loud and clear.
“I know this is all familiar from the first lockdown last spring, but the strict observation of the rules last March and April helped drive down cases. We need to remember that and do the same now.
“We are relying on the people of Oxfordshire as individuals, families and work colleagues to regain control of this virus by doing what is needed. I would plead with every individual in the county to look deep inside themselves and honestly ask if they are abiding by the rules.
“Hospitalisations and deaths from the virus are continuing to rise rapidly and we are now seeing more younger people admitted to hospital. Please do everything you can to stop the spread. The power to fight back against COVID remains in our own hands.”
Ansaf Azhar, Oxfordshire County Council’s Director for Public Health