COVID-19 VACCINATIONS ROLLING OUT
With Covid-19 cases rising across Buckinghamshire in December and our local NHS Trust declaring a major emergency, any optimism about the New Year had to be tempered by caution. Thus it proved on 5 January, when, alongside the good news that the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccination is rolling out, England re-entered lockdown.
The next few weeks will be critical and it is imperative that everyone does everything they can to follow the rules, by staying at home. The pressure on our NHS is huge and we must do all we can to minimise it.
There is good news about the vaccines, with regulators approving the third (Moderna) vaccine and mass vaccination centres opening. Our NHS is leading the way in getting “jabs into arms”, organising a huge programme, the biggest-ever effort in its history, supported by health professionals and also by many volunteers.
Rumours and fake news can potentially cause as much harm as the virus, so I called in the House of Commons on 6 January for there to be a supporting Government drive to make sure that false information is rebutted, quickly and firmly. People need accurate information so they can judge the claims that are circulating and also help family and friends who ask for advice. I have requested a Frequently Asked Questions section on the gov.uk website.
Locally, Heathrow has provided a valued air bridge for repatriation flights and for vital cargo which includes medicines and PPE. The airport is vital and yet it is facing a proposed reduction of only 7 per cent in its £118 million rates bill. In Scotland and Northern Ireland, the airports have a 100% waiver. As well as being our local airport and with many constituents working there, Heathrow is a global trade centre, dealing with our exports as well as imports of much-needed commodities.
We are lagging behind other international countries, so we need more support for the aviation sector, in addition to reviewing it regularly to make sure its services are not threatened.
[This article was previously published in Your Chesham and Your Amersham.]