Lockdown in Caerphilly will last for at least another week, it has been announced.

A letter signed jointly by Caerphilly County Borough Council's leader, Councillor Philippa Marsden, and chief executive Christina Harrhy, thanks residents in the Welsh town for their "collective efforts" so far, whilst warning them of more to come.

The statement, published today, reads: "There’s light at the end of the tunnel - Let’s keep the great work going!

"We would like to take this opportunity to provide you with an update regarding the latest position of the local restrictions and the impact of our collective efforts. We want to thank you for protecting families, friends and loved ones.

"Your efforts really are making a difference, but we remain at a critical stage and we ask that you keep pushing a little more!

"Following a meeting with the First Minister today, we have agreed that our restrictions will remain in place for at least another seven days.

"We also agreed to develop our exit plan over the next week, working with Welsh Government and partner colleagues, in readiness for our next formal seven day review period."

The statement adds that, although it is a "positive step", there is "further work to do" before restrictions can be relaxed within the community.

"The rate of infection per 100,000 population has dropped from over 100 to around 50 over recent weeks," it adds.

"This is a great achievement, but we still have some further work to do in order to reduce it even further. The virus spreads very quickly and the corresponding figures increase quickly but the figures take longer to drop, so we cannot become complacent.

"You would have seen in the media over the recent week or so, that many other local authority areas are now facing the same challenges as us. Indeed, across Gwent, the only local authority area that is not subject to local restrictions is Monmouthshire. You will therefore appreciate that this is a worrying time, but the collective actions of us all, working together, will change this.

"Coronavirus is still very much active in our community and continues to pose a real threat to us all.

"What we do know is that we are unlikely to return to what we previously considered ‘normal’ any time soon. We need to accept that we will be required to live our lives in a very different way for the foreseeable future and adjust our behaviours accordingly."

Caerphilly County Borough Council's leader, Councillor Philippa Marsden, and chief executive Christina Harrhy

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An exit plan will now be developed to ensure restrictions are lifted in a "safe and sustainable way", the statement reads.

It states: "Lifting the restrictions is the easy bit - if we simply return to what we were doing prior to the local restrictions being imposed, the infection rate will rise and we will simply be put back into another lockdown. None of us want this – so it is within our gift to ensure this does not happen.

"We all know what we need to do to help control the spread of the virus. Our schools are a great example of how adjustments can be made to ensure that everyday life continues in a Covid-secure way. Protocols and guidelines are in place to protect the whole school community and the system is working well. It is clear that we need to adopt a similar approach in other areas of our lives if we are to all stay safe.

"As we go about our daily business, we must continue to socially distance, wash our hands regularly and wear masks when required. The people of the county borough are very proud and principled, but we all love a ‘cwtch’.

"Unfortunately, for the time being this can only be reserved for those in our immediate households. We must think of other ways in which we can show our appreciation to our wider network of family and friends whilst this virus remains with us. We must not lose sight of the fact that we are doing this together, to protect the whole community and, in particular, those who are vulnerable and/or elderly."

The authority said it was "working around the clock" to make sure people living in the area were protected.

"The council continues to throw everything we have to control this virus. Officers and elected members, together with our colleagues in Gwent Police, Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, Public Health Wales and Welsh Government are working around the clock to ensure our county borough and its people are protected," the statement reads.

"Many are looking to learn from what we are doing here in Caerphilly, as our 'Team Caerphilly' approach is setting an excellent example to the rest of the UK. Our figures clearly demonstrate that, if everyone follows the guidelines and adheres to the restrictions, then we can tackle this deadly virus.

"To summarise, our collective efforts are making a difference and there is light at the end of the tunnel. We will develop our exit plans over the next few days but we remain in a critical position. Before we are able to relax any of the restrictions, we still need to bring the numbers down further. We know we are asking a lot from you, but we also know that you share our passion and resolve to keep our people and place safe.

"So, let’s keep our collective efforts going - let’s push a little harder and let’s kick this virus into touch!"