“This week has been another successful week for the West Midlands in the fight against Coronavirus, with the number of infections and deaths decreasing, more businesses going back to work, and public transport remaining very quiet. I want to say a huge thank you to the vast majority of people in the region who have shown incredible resolve and responsibility throughout this past week and indeed the whole crisis, and pay my condolences to those who have lost loved ones to this terrible virus.
“The roadmap the Prime Minister set out two weekends ago suggests June 1 could be the next significant step out of lockdown, with some schools and further businesses re-opening. However we will only be able to make a success of these further steps with a comprehensive track and trace system in place. The Government has already recruited 24,000 of the 25,000 people it has said it needs, and I am pleased that this afternoon it was confirmed the West Midlands will be among the first regions to role this system out, with Coventry, Solihull, and Warwickshire chosen as a pilot area. With the rate of new infections currently very low in the West Midlands, now is the time to use track and trace in the region to suppress Coronavirus one case by one case. Track and trace is also critical to the re-booting of our regional economy. Not only will an effective system allow more businesses to return, but it will also give people confidence to start returning to some form of pre-Coronavirus normality.
“These are points representatives from across the region made to Central Government earlier this week as part of the first regional Coronavirus Impact Group meeting. Chaired by Robert Jenrick and with an array of leading ministers including from across Government, we as a region also used the meeting to request more flexibility to the furlough scheme as well as support for our automotive sector. I was pleased to see the Government engage at this level with our region and recognise what an important role we have to play in the recovery phase.
“Another important meeting this week was the virtual roundtable Public Health England held with more than 25 BAME community leaders from across the West Midlands. PHE is conducting a rapid review into whether coronavirus is disproportionately affecting BAME communities, and given the incredible diversity of the West Midlands I thought it was important we had input into the review. The meeting, which was led by the review’s lead researcher Kevin Fenton, was well received and the group discussed a variety of topics including sharing of best practice from other countries and the effectiveness of Government communication to BAME communities.”