I am of course disappointed to see Staffordshire move into Tier 4 along with over 75% of the country. This new COVID strain is incredibly virulent and easily travels from person to person. This is why we are seeing case rates rocketing across the country. In Tamworth, in the seven days before Christmas, the number of COVID cases grew by over 20%, and in Lichfield it was by over 50%. Seven days is a very short amount of time for such a big increase. If we wait for even a short time more the number of infections could run out of control.
Admissions into hospitals are rising fast, and across the United Kingdom we currently have nearly 22,000 people in hospital with this dreadful virus. I have continued to meet the Health Secretary each week to go through the data in Tamworth and Staffordshire, as well as with the Vaccines Minister to see how we can ensure Tamworth is getting all the vaccines we need.
The new vaccines are important, they will be our passport to freedom and our passport to recovery. Only this morning we got the excellent news that the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine had been approved in the United Kingdom. We have an order large enough for 50 million people and unlike the Pfizer vaccine out new British vaccine does not need super cold temperatures to be stored in. We can be proud of British science and look forward to it putting a stop to this virus.
Please continue to do your bit; stay home, keep washing those hands and control the virus.