Dacorum marks National Day of Reflection on Covid lockdown anniversary

People are reminded that national lockdown restrictions remain in force

Tuesday, 23rd March 2021, 5:18 am
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The first anniversary of the first lockdown will be marked today (23 March) in Dacorum as part of a National Day of Reflection.

Dacorum Borough Council will be supporting the National Day of Reflection, and observing the national one minute at 12noon.

People are being encouraged to observe the one-minute silence to show silent support and solidarity for the millions of people who have been affected across the world during the past year.

More than 126,000 people have died within 28 days of the first positive coronavirus test in the UK since the start of the pandemic, including more than 300 in Dacorum, according to the latest government data.

Doorsteps will light up throughout the UK and there will be ‘virtual’ community-led activities to reflect on the past year. Prominent buildings and iconic landmarks around the country will be lit up in yellow as a beacon of hope and solidarity.

People are reminded that national lockdown restrictions remain in force.

This has played a significant part in reducing the number of transmissions of the infection along with washing hands regularly, wearing face coverings, keeping a safe distance and testing twice weekly and now taking the vaccine when offered.

All these measures are helping to control the spread of the virus and reduce the number of deaths.

Today marks one year since Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that everyone across the UK was to stay at home for the first time, as the coronavirus pandemic ravaged the nation.

It has been an extraordinary 12 months that have changed our lives in terms of health, financial well-being and simple social contact with family and friends.

And it has been a year in which everyone became interested in the daily numbers of the pandemic.

Cases and deaths

Since the early days of the pandemic, we have been provided with regular updates on the number of new positive cases and, sadly, reported deaths.

In Dacorum, 8,372 people had tested positive for Covid-19 and the borough had recorded 318 deaths - within 28 days of the first positive coronavirus test - by the morning of March 22, according to Public Health England.

Health experts have repeatedly said "excess deaths" – the number of deaths above the annual expected number – are a better measure of the overall impact of the coronavirus pandemic than simply looking at mortality directly linked to Covid-19.

ONS figures on this show that 1,565 people died of all causes in Dacorum between March 2020 and February 2021 – the latest available data.

That was 25 per cent above the 1,250 deaths which occurred over the same period a year earlier.

The West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust has praised the staff that have made 'huge personal sacrifices' and the incredible kindness and support from the community.

A trust spokesperson said: “It will take time for many of us to process the full extent of what has happened this past year.

"We know that many staff have endured traumatic situations, made huge personal sacrifices and been unbelievably brave in the darkest moments of the pandemic.

"We must also never forget that we’ve experienced incredible kindness and support from the community whose response has been overwhelming.

"We have not wanted for anything. We have also welcomed some outstanding individuals who have become core members of our volunteer response team.

"We are especially grateful to the Watford Chamber of Commerce, and to Watford Football Club who opened their stadium to us and who continue to support us in so many ways. We can’t thank you all enough!”

The labour market

As well as being the biggest health crisis in decades, the coronavirus pandemic has also brought rapid change to the UK's jobs market.

Unemployment rates have surged along with a rise in job uncertainty, and many more people are seeking support from unemployment benefits.

One of the defining elements of the Government's response to the spread of Covid-19 was the launch of emergency income support schemes to protect jobs.

Back in March last year, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, or "furlough" scheme, to help firms struggling with the impact of the virus.

By the end of May, just two months later, businesses had already put around 19,200 employments on furlough in Dacorum.

At the same time, people in the area had made roughly 6,800 claims made under the separate Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.

In January, 11,500 jobs were on furlough in Dacorum, with 6,100 reliant on the SEISS scheme.

ONS figures show that in early March last year, 1,865 people in Dacorum were claiming out-of-work benefits.

By mid-January, that figure had risen well over double to 4,690.

The figures include those aged 16 to 64 on Jobseeker’s Allowance and some Universal Credit claimants, who are unemployed and seeking work or employed but with low earnings.

Read: These are the age groups in Dacorum where Universal Credit claimants have increased the mostThe ONS has regularly cautioned that changes to Universal Credit in response to the virus mean more people can get the benefits while still being employed, which mean the figures can't be used to measure unemployment on a local basis.

It also said a small number of people who can claim both JSA and UC could be counted twice.

Vaccinations

After an extremely difficult year for many of us, the vaccine rollout is providing a glimmer of hope for a life not bound by restrictions.

NHS data shows 51,590 people in Dacorum had received their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine by March 14.

Read: Latest figures show where Covid-19 vaccine uptake is highest and lowest in DacorumMore than 25 million people across the UK have had their first jab.