Change to Major Incident does not mean we can let our coronavirus guard down

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Multi-agency partners across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent have agreed to downgrade the Major Incident that was declared to help co-ordinate the response to coronavirus.

This does not mean that the pandemic nor the threat from the virus is over.  The NHS nationally as well as locally remains in a Major Incident and people need to follow national advice about social distancing, track and trace and the wearing of face coverings where required by law.

The Major Incident was declared by Staffordshire Resilience Forum (SRF) on March 25.  The SRF consists of the blue-light emergency services, all local NHS organisations, 10 local authorities and local representatives from a number of national agencies.

Dr Richard Harling, the Director for Health and Care at Staffordshire County Council chairs the Strategic Coordinating Group, which oversees the multi-agency response.

Dr Harling said: “This does not mean anyone can afford to let their guard down.  COVID-19 is still a real danger that we all must take action against.  However, the situation in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent is currently stable.

“Declaring a Major Incident in March was a way of making sure all public sector agencies and our partners could work together, share resources where necessary, and better anticipate and deal with challenges.  With the current situation we are now able to release some people who were seconded from their principal duties back to their day jobs as we move towards restoration and recovery.

“As a multi-agency partnership we will continue to work extremely closely and the Strategic Coordinating Group that has led the local response will continue to meet on a regular basis.

“We would also like to thank our workforce who have reacted magnificently to the pandemic response and being redeployed to tasks ranging from the delivery of PPE to setting up testing centres. While cross agency redeployment that will be stood-down some staff will continue to be redeployed within their own organisations.”

Lockdowns could still happen if there is a rise in the infection rate.

Gareth Morgan, Chief Constable of Staffordshire Police and the Staffordshire Resilience Forum Chair, said: “Community outbreaks are still a real threat – either on a very localised scale like that recently seen on a farm in Herefordshire, or on a much larger scale, such as witnessed in Leicester.

“If the need arises we can trigger re-activation of the Major Incident at any time. We still face many challenges, especially as we approach winter and the period when seasonal flu begins to increase as a risk.

“I would like to thank all the partner agencies for their united work in responding to the crisis and their ongoing commitment and focus. I would also like to thank the public for their support.”

There is no change in the requirement to socially distance or follow national guidelines on Coronavirus/COVID 19.

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