Islanders are being urged to use the latest national lockdown to “review and reset” their behaviours amid soaring cases of coronavirus which threaten to overwhelm local health and care services.
Isle of Wight Council leader, Dave Stewart, called on residents to redouble their efforts and follow the national lockdown rules to stop the spread of the new, more transmissible variant of the virus.
He said: “We must strive to do everything in our power to prevent local services reaching capacity as they have elsewhere. The outcome is in our hands and we must grasp this opportunity to defeat the virus and rebuild our lives.
“Once again, the Island can show its true community spirit by rising to the challenge we face and doing what is required of us. If everyone does what is being asked, we will come through safely.”
The latest lockdown comes as the Island recorded nearly 1,200 new cases in one week bringing the rate of infection close to 850 per 100,000 population – far greater than the national average of 520 cases per 100,000 population.
The Island figure had stood at just 21 per 100,000 at the start of last month.
Councillor Stewart said: “If our whole community was following the government’s guidelines, especially in relation to social distancing, then the number of cases would not be increasing at such a rate.
“We must continue to protect ourselves from a virus which is now more contagious and between 50 and 70 per cent more transmissible.
“We know this virus is spread by contact so if we do not move around and mix then the virus will not move around either.”
As with the first lockdown last March, people cannot leave their homes except for certain reasons such as essential medical needs, food shopping, exercise and work for those who cannot do so from home.
All schools and colleges have closed to most pupils, with remote learning until February half-term.
Early years settings such as nurseries can remain open.
Restaurants can continue to offer delivery for food, but takeaway alcohol will be banned.
Councillor Stewart said: “Our communities have already endured so much hardship and it is difficult to once again accept the situation we are in.
“I really feel for the businesses which will be affected by this latest lockdown and I would encourage them to take advantage of the existing and new grants to be soon available. We will ensure that grant applications are dealt with as quickly as possible.
“With the announcement that schools must close, rest assured we will continue to support them so that our children and young people can access high quality education albeit from home. Our priority is educating our young people, but this must be done with the safety of school staff, pupils and their parents at the forefront of our minds.
“We cannot allow this virus to completely overwhelm our hospital, especially when there is so much hope on the horizon with the scaling up of the vaccination programme.
“Perhaps more than ever before, the behaviour of every single one of us will make the difference. By making these big sacrifices, we can give the NHS critical time and space to do what it does best, and to also deliver the vaccination programme.
“National restrictions, while strict, have been shown to bring infection rates down much faster than other courses of action. It gives us all the opportunity to review and reset our behaviours and do the right things for our family and friends.
“I ask everyone to follow the new rules, stay at home, and continue to follow the ‘hands, face, space’ instruction. It’s the only way to keep the Island safe.”
For more information on Covid-19, visit https://keeptheislandsafe.org/