PEOPLE need to abide by coronavirus rules if they want a “glimmer of a normal Christmas,” Swindon’s Covid chief said.

The town’s case rate has fallen slightly in the past week from 216 cases per 100,000 to 195.3, but the regional and national case rates have risen.

Speaking to reporters yesterday, Swindon Borough Council’s director of public health Steve Maddern said: “If everyone does what they should be doing around looking after themselves and their broader communities that will help to bring down the case rates, which then gives more of a glimmer of a normal Christmas.”

The Government is expected to outline plans next week for how the coronavirus rules might look once the lockdown ends at the start of December.

Responding to suggestions that ministers could ease the rules over Christmas to allow mixing of households, Mr Maddern said: “I’m not necessarily sure that would be an appropriate thing. Because whatever we do around mixing that obviously then increases that risk of case rates increasing.”

People needed to view the current restrictions as short-term pain for long-term gain, he said.

He revealed that officials were dealing with outbreaks and single-case situations in 48 schools and 12 workplaces. Almost 1,500 schoolchildren and teachers are currently self-isolating at home.

While new cases are spread across the borough, there had been a rise in cases in the SN2 and SN25 postcode areas. More than half of those who had tested positive in the past week – 51 per cent – were aged 30 to 60. And three quarters gave their ethnicity as white British.

Swindon care homes had largely managed to insulate themselves from the worst of the virus during the most recent spike, with cases isolated to staff members.

But the council revealed it was looking at trialling the quick-result lateral flow tests on care home visitors to help reduce the risk of coronavirus among the town’s most at-risk residents. The pilot programme could be up and running at some homes by Christmas.

Mr Maddern said: “We are very much in the initial stages of having that discussion with the department of health and social care at this moment in time.

“It just provides an extra tool that we can use to ensure safe visiting to care homes. We’ve not stopped visiting to care homes, but it’s just an extra tool that care homes would be able to use.”