As we observe the 75th anniversary of VE Day we are reminded of the incredible dedication and bravery of those who served to protect our country, with many sacrificing themselves to bring about an end to conflict.
While I am sure many homes will be celebrating the occasion in their own way, we ought to also reflect on the bravery demonstrated by people working in direct contact of Covid-19. That includes frontline workers, carers and NHS staff who have shown resilience in these challenging times.
We are slowly winning the battle against Covid-19 and as we get to grips with this virus, we can now look forward to a return to normality. The government’s plan to tackle the Covid-19 threat - flattening the curve, protecting the NHS and saving lives - is working.
The number of new Covid-19 cases is now on a clear downward trajectory and the NHS has significant spare capacity to treat patients and to save lives. Both intensive care as well as overall hospital admissions are down. Further to this, Greater Manchester Nightingale hospital, one of seven temporary hospitals, is nowhere near reaching capacity. Therefore, it is clear that the health service has been equipped and prepared with the resources it needs.
We have been stepping up our local preparations to deal with the virus. Fifty beds have been made available as part of a new ward at Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust – put together in just 38 days.
However, just like in normal times, those with underlying health conditions and serious ailments should seek further help and support if they need it. Despite the lockdown, it is important that those in need of serious medical care should continue to seek treatment via their local GP or A&E.
Both James Grundy MP and I have been working to support local people and businesses to get through this difficult time. People have been getting in touch to say how much they appreciate the support from the Government but also to say how the rules need to be changed and improved. I am glad to say that, in so many areas, the Government has listened and have made their support so much more effective.
Wigan Council is continuing to distribute its £80 million allocation to local businesses as part of the coronavirus cash grant worth £10,000. Many businesses across the borough will be provided with the support they need to maintain operating costs while reducing the financial impact.
Over four thousand local businesses are in line to receive this grant payment. Of those who are covered, many have already received the grant as of late April – delivering even more grant payments than Manchester City Council. The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, and the Government has undoubtably stepped up to the task by delivering a massive scale of support.
While families, businesses and community groups weather this storm, it is reassuring to know that the support that has been made available will provide the basis for our community to see off the virus while looking to the future beyond the lockdown.