Recent local epidemiology reports confirm that there has been a significant rise in infections in East Cambridgeshire. As you will be aware, there is now a new variant of the COVID-19 virus which is becoming the dominant strain within this area and studies to date indicate that this new strain is approximately 70% more contagious than the previous version of the virus therefore it is vital that communities abide by the rules in place in East Cambridgeshire.

The best way people can reduce their risk to COVID-19 is to minimise contact with anyone outside their household or support bubble.

It’s imperative to do all you can to protect yourself as well as your friends, family and neighbours and to help, a wide range of support is available.

The East Cambs COVID-19 Coordination Hub’s webpages contain a wealth of information on the wide variety of support available to communities and businesses, including details of parish level support in place. Whether you need help with shopping, getting supplies and medications, or simply want a chat with a friendly voice, The Hub can help you.

The Hub can be contacted at covid19@eastcambs.gov.uk or on 01353 665555 (08:45-17:00 Monday to Thursday and 08:45-16:30 on Fridays) or on 07710 978900 (outside of these hours). The Hub’s webpages can be found at https://www.eastcambs.gov.uk/content/covid-19-information-and-support.

Most people will be really sad about recent developments, the pandemic has been affecting our lives since March and we hoped for a short break over Christmas.  But for some this could mean a significant  effect on their mental health.

Please look out for neighbours and friends who may be alone or under specific pressures and even if you can’t meet physically – ring or contact them online.

If you are suffering there is local help available – you can contact the Lifeline Helpline on 0808 808 2121  – 11am to 11pm every day  and the countywide hub 0345 0455219 can also help to link you with befriending services. The ‘Keep Your Head’ website has information about a wider range of mental health support services, local and national. https://www.keep-your-head.com/

If you are in mental health crisis you can dial the NHS 111 service and choose Option 2.

If you’re a business owner, please check the district council’s website regularly, as more funding for businesses, especially those severely affected by COVID-19, is being made available on a regular basis. Visit: https://www.eastcambs.gov.uk/content/coronavirus-information-businesses

The COVID-19 vaccine is currently being rolled out and the first two GP surgeries to start administering vaccines for Cambridgeshire were in East Cambs, but it is still likely to take until the spring for enough people to have been vaccinated to protect our older and vulnerable residents. While this happens we must work even harder now on keeping the virus under control.