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“As we head into what was already anticipated to be a difficult winter period, we are extremely concerned that the most recent data is showing an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in Stevenage and elsewhere across the county. The number of cases in the town is at its highest level since May.

“The majority of new infections are in the 20-49 age bracket and while they may not pose a serious threat to the health of most younger people, we all need to be aware that the virus can still have dangerous effects. The risk of spreading the virus to older and more vulnerable residents is still high and could result in an increase in serious COVID-19 cases which require hospitalisation.

“With no vaccine currently available, this pandemic is not over and could get worse during the winter months, presenting challenges for our local NHS to administer care to all patients.

“If we all take personal responsibility in helping to stop the spread of infection - reinforcing our commitment to social distancing, wearing masks and washing our hands regularly and properly - we can mitigate the worst of it and prevent more drastic measures needing to be taken. We’ve only just reopened the town, let’s not see our pubs, restaurants and other businesses closing again. The application of some good old-fashioned common sense can help prevent that.

“To keep our residents safe and to avoid becoming one of the Government’s local lockdown areas, we need all Stevenage residents to keep playing their part in reducing the spread of COVID-19 within the local community. Please observe the well-publicised social distancing guidelines and the new ‘Rule of Six’ in regard to group gatherings.

“And if you think that you may have come into contact with someone with COVID-19 you should self-isolate for 14 days. If you are feeling unwell, you should call  119 or book a test on the website.”