Covid-19: Vaccination claims spark controversy at council meeting

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Statements made by two key figures over a possible Covid vaccine sparked controversy at a council meeting last Thursday.

Claims on the availability of a vaccination made by Cheif Executive of Birmingham and Solihull CCG Paul Jennings and Assistant Director of Public Health, Elizabeth Griffiths overlapped each other at the Councils Covid Engagement board meeting.

While speaking in the meeting, Paul Jennings mentioned a possibility of a Covid vaccine would be available from this Christmas which clashed with the claims made by Elizabeth Griffiths.

“My understanding is that there still is a possibility that it (vaccine) could begin to flow by chirstmas. So there is still some hope left,” Jennings said.

Chief Executive of Birmingham and Solihull CCG Paul Jennings

However Griffiths, while updating the committee with the latest figures and statistics, mentioned a covid vaccine would not be available till next year or the year after.

No one on the committee seemed to pick up on this conflicting issue.

She also hinted the cases were continuing to fall and mentioned the rapid awareness and proactive responses by the authorities have helped curb the spread of the virus.

Birmingham City Council was approached for clarification regarding this matter.

Meanwhile, the leader of Birmingham city council Ian Ward warned every citizen to follow the regulations implemented to curb the spread of Covid-19 or risk getting fined or arrested.

Councillor Ian Ward

“Everyone must follow the regulations imposed. If not, the council has the power to take action. We don’t want to do it, but we will if the situation arises,” said the councillor at the local Covid engagement board meeting today.

Birmingham – along with some other areas – is having tighter local lockdown restrictions preventing households to interact with people that do not live in the household or support bubble indoors.

Potential fines up to £200 could be imposed on people who break the restrictions. Breaches by leisure and entertainment venues, community centres, and close contact services could be fined up to £10,000.

Birmingham had recorded 1 death since the start of this month and 512 confirmed cases on Sunday (October 4). The UK had recorded 28 deaths from the start of October with 22,941 positive cases being recorded on Sunday.

The cumulative death tally of the pandemic in the UK is 42,350 with 502,978 cases as on October 4.

Speaking at the meeting, chief superintendent at West Midlands Police Stephen Graham said officers will carry out and record restriction breaches on 4 different levels.

Chief superintendent at West Midlands Police Stephen Graham

“A level 1 offence would be a simple breach of restrictions where the crowd disperses after a warning has issued. Level 2 breaches include a formal warning with directions to leave while a level 3 breach would result in a fixed penalty notice. Level 4 breach would lead to an arrest,” he said.

So far, the police have issued 1655 directions to leave, 229 fixed penalty notices and 5 arrests. The police chief also mentioned that Level 1 breaches weren’t recorded at the start but will be recorded in the future.

The meeting also heard that 15,000 complaints were made by the public about restriction breaches through whistleblower lines.

For the latest information and government guidance on the coronavirus visit here.

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