Friday 17 July 2020
In this update:
We're working hard to ensure we keep residents safe
Local arrangements to keep a sharp look out for any potential new outbreaks of coronavirus in Devon and take swift and decisive action to tackle and contain it, are now up and running.
Devon's COVID-19 Health Protection Board, Chaired by Dr Virginia Pearson, and Devon's Local Outbreak Engagement Board, Chaired by the Leader of Devon County Council, John Hart, both met this week.
"Devon is in a good place right now," said John Hart. "We continue to have one of the lowest number of cases in the country, and we want to keep it that way.”
Dr Pearson, Chair of the COVID-19 Health Protection Board, said: "Local arrangements to manage coronavirus effectively are up and running. We have access to information from Public Health England as well as our own intelligence and will be looking out for anything of concern such as a rise in overall numbers or if we see clusters of cases or hotspots appearing.
"If needed, we will take whatever action is necessary to make sure we keep numbers low and prevent the uncontrolled spread of this virus."
Residents and visitors asked to 'stick with us'
As schools close for the summer and the holiday season gets fully underway, the South West is calling on residents and visitors to do the right thing and follow the rules in order to play their part in keeping the region COVID-safe this summer.
Following the opening up of the hospitality and tourism sector two weeks ago, levels of infection and new cases in the South West have continued to remain among the lowest in the country – and South West leaders paid tribute to the businesses which have opened up for playing their part in keeping the area COVID-safe.
We are now entering the crucial time at the start of the summer tourism peak. As more residents take a break with their families, and as further lockdown restrictions are lifted, the onus is on each and every one of us to do our part in helping prevent the spread of the virus, which remains a serious threat to public health.
So the message in the South West is clear – whether you are visiting, living here or a resident about to go on holiday – stick with us and keep following the guidance to keep everyone safe.
That means continuing to observe social distancing, getting tested if you have symptoms, self-isolating when required to, washing hands regularly, wearing a face covering, and making use of hand sanitiser where it's available.
To users of Newton Abbot's recycling centre
Since we've reopened our recycling centres and adopted all the steps necessary for us to reopen safely, including social distancing and restricting the number of vehicles able to be on site, some of our centres have experienced lengthy queuing.
One such centre is our Brunel Road recycling centre in Newton Abbot. Queues there in particular are sometimes long and problematic.
That way, we might ease some of the queuing.
More libraries opening their doors to public access
Our libraries started reopening earlier this month, with three libraries in Braunton, Chudleigh, and Honiton opening as a pilot with public access to choose books from shelves and use the computers. A fourth, in Brixham, also run by Libraries Unlimited, opened for public access.
Elsewhere in Devon, 'Choose and Collect' services have been operating, and people have been telephoning or emailing their library and arranging a collection date.
But from next week, Monday 20 July, more libraries will be opening to public access with the expected rules around social distancing, including those in Crediton, Dartmouth, Exmouth, Ilfracombe, Okehampton, Sidmouth, St Thomas (Exeter), South Molton and Tavistock.
You'll also be asked to wear face coverings at our libraries from Friday 24 July.
All you might ever want to know about face coverings
You can buy them. You can make them. You could also wear a scarf, bandana, or a religious garment. The important thing is, it's got to fit securely around the side of the face, and cover the nose and mouth.
They're actually more intended to protect others, not the wearer, against the spread of infection. It's because the virus can spread by droplets from coughs, sneezes and speaking. Those droplets can be picked up on surfaces.That's why social distancing, and regular hand hygiene is so very important. And covering any coughs and sneezes of course with a tissue and disposing of it properly.
It's the combination of these three measures that helps stop the spread of coronavirus:
- Keep your distance, as per social distancing
- Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly
- Wear a face covering, that fits over your nose and mouth
Helping hand to restaurants and other eateries
It's offering discounts at participating restaurants and other establishments that serve food on-premises.
But those establishments need to have registered first, otherwise they'll not get the Government support.
So, from Monday 3 August to the Monday 31 August (but only on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays), restaurants and bars, cafes and other establishments who use the scheme will offer a 50 per cent reduction, to a minimum of £10 per person, to all diners who eat and/or drink-in.
Customers don't need a voucher. The participating businesses will just reclaim the discounted amount through an online service.
Who likes to move it move it?
If you like to exercise, here's the latest on what you can do, who with and where.
You can now exercise alone, with members of your household or with up to 5 other people from outside your household.
Up to two households are permitted to gather in groups of more than 6 people in or outdoors, so long as people social distance.
If you live alone, you're able to bubble with another household, with social distancing.
If you are symptomatic or live with someone who has or possibly has COVID-19, please just stay home - and don't have visitors.
If you've been told to isolate by NHS Test and Trace, because you've been in contact with a confirmed case, please do so. You can exercise at home or in the garden, but please don't go further than that. And don't exercise with anyone else.
Bringing you news in other formats
Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, we've tried to keep you up to date with the latest national advice and local news relating to COVID-19.
A lot of that is delivered digitally, through bulletins such as this, and online content on our website.
But not everyone is online, so alongside NHS Devon CCG and the Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioners Office, we have joined forces to produce a newspaper.
It's called Devon Together. It's a one-off, and we've produced it with our colleagues at the Archant newspaper group which publish the Exmouth Journal, Mid Week Herald, North Devon Gazette and Sidmouth Herald as well as Devon Life magazine.
It's being delivered to around 300,000 households across Devon, and door-to-door deliveries start today for a week or so.
The purpose of it, like this, is to keep people informed of the latest news and information.
There are some copies available for free from supermarkets in the county, so look out for one.
Test and Trace reminder
We all have an important role to play in protecting each other from the spread of coronavirus, so just a quick reminder that if you develop any symptoms of coronavirus you should self-isolate immediately and urgently book a free test by visiting the NHS website.
Don't forget, you must continue to self isolate until you've got your results and if they're positive you'll need to give the NHS Test and Trace service the details of everyone you have recently been in contact with.
They will then be contacted by either text, phone call or email and told to self-isolate for up to 14 days, even if they are not showing any symptoms of coronavirus. This is because it can take up to 14 days for symptoms to appear.
You can find out more about the NHS Test and Trace Service and how it works on the NHS website.
Facts and figures around wider impact of COVID-19
We will no doubt all have found new routines and habits over the last three or so months, with lockdown, self-isolation and shielding.
Many parents have been juggling working from home with home schooling and many others will have needed to face very different and very demanding challenges.
So, new habits. Some good. Some perhaps less so.
Public Health England has been looking at the wider impacts of COVID-19. They've looked at smoking and drinking habits, physical activity, how people are spending their time and grocery purchasing behaviour, for example.
They’ll keep up their studies, and add to the data. It all builds up a picture of how we've responded to the challenges we've faced, and still are facing.
Importantly, the data helps us monitor health inequalities, and provide demographic and regional breakdowns where possible.
Some headlines so far:
- 18 to 24 year olds report drinking less each week during lockdown; whereas those aged 24 to 64 report drinking more
- Fewer people aged between 16 to 24 report smoking during lockdown
- Nearly 10 per cent of smokers have tried quitting during lockdown. Just over 10 per cent have started using e-cigarettes
- The proportion of adults who said they felt anxious or that they had low self-worth in the weeks just prior and starting lockdown was about double the average figure for 2019. That figures dropped a little since, but it's still well above 2019 levels
We'll come back to this in later editions of this bulletin as more data becomes available, and share information about how small steps can lead to healthier living.
Thursday 9 July 2020
In this update:
- Devon is prepared for local outbreaks
- Enjoy summer safely advice
- Support for shielding residents
- NHS Help Us Help You survey
- Find out what support is available
- Testing facilities extended
Devon is prepared in the event of local outbreaks
Devon's Director of Public Health, Dr Virginia Pearson, says the county is ‘in a good position’ if a local outbreak occurs, following sustained low numbers of positive COVID-19 cases and steady flow of quality data.
She made the comments at our Cabinet meeting earlier this week while discussing the Local Outbreak Management Plan with Councillors.
The plan is a blueprint which details how any future outbreaks of the virus in Devon would be managed and how its transmission would be contained.
Dr Pearson also chairs the COVID-19 Health Protection Board, a committee of specialists who can coordinate a swift response to an outbreak of the virus.
And our Leader, Cllr John Hart is chair of Team Devon, the Local Outbreak Engagement Board, which will monitor how the plan is implemented.
You can read more about the Local Outbreak Management Plan on our website.
Enjoy summer safely
The government is encouraging everyone to enjoy summer safely by following their advice and guidance to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.
This includes adhering to social distancing (2 metres where possible) keeping your hands clean, keeping interactions with those outside of your household or support bubble brief and wearing a face covering in enclosed spaces.
You should not leave home if you or anyone in you household or support bubble has coronavirus symptoms.
Get a free NHS test to check if you have the virus and self-isolate until you get your results.
Local businesses such as pubs, hotels and hairdressers have begun reopening their doors with strict measures in place to keep their customers and employees safe.
And to help people plan days out the government has launched the 'Know Before You Go' website to help everyone enjoy days out as safely as possible. It includes advice on what to do before you leave home, how to look after yourself and each other when you're out and links to find out how different areas of the country are reopening.
Support for clinically vulnerable residents
Help Us Help You South West Survey
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many health and care services have needed to be delivered differently. You may, for example, have accessed the health service online or over the telephone.
The NHS would like to know what you think about these new ways of working to help them understand how they can best meet people’s needs in future.
The information you provide will be used by health and care organisations and commissioners at NHS England and NHS Improvement in the South West to help understand what suits different people best in different parts of our region.
The survey is open until 31 July, 2020. A report with the results of the survey will be published on the NHS England and NHS Improvement South West website and shared with participating health and care organisations and those who provide their email addresses.
Find out what support is available to you
Testing facilities extended in England
Councils can request mobile units in response to increased local demand.
They join a testing network that now includes 68 drive-through regional test sites in the UK, and six new walk-through local testing sites in Newcastle, Rochdale, Leeds, Brent, Newham and Slough, offering appointments to people without cars.
Home testing kits are also available, allowing people to test at home and post back via any of the 30,000 Royal Mail priority postboxes across the UK, which are marked by a regionalised NHS logo. Check where your nearest priority postbox is.
“If you have a high temperature, a new continuous cough, or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste, you should book a test immediately," said Dr Virginia Pearson, Devon’s Director of Public Health Devon and Chair of the new multi-agency COVID-19 Health Protection Board.
"Everyone with symptoms can book or order a free test at nhs.uk/coronavirus or by calling 119.
"Anyone testing positive in England will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace, to help identify and trace people who they have been in contact with, to control the spread of the virus."
New study looks at coronavirus in care home settings
There's a new study, the Vivaldi 2 study, which aims to understand more about how coronavirus is spread within care homes.
It will take place in over 100 care homes in England, with swab tests (which test if the person currently has the virus) and blood tests (which test if the person has ever had it).
Residents and staff will only be asked to take part if they have given their consent.
The study is expected to take place over the course of 12 to 18 months.
It will help care homes, and local public health authorities, react quickly to outbreaks and provide reassurance to those living and working in them.
Whole care home testing has extended to all adult care homes.
PPE in numbers
That includes 341 million masks, 313 million aprons, 4 million gowns, and 1.1 billion gloves…delivered to frontline workers.
Almost 28 billion items of PPE have been ordered overall from UK-based manufacturers and international partners, to provide a continuous supply in the coming months.
"This will help protect our hardworking NHS and care staff, allowing them to continue to save lives and provide high-quality care to those who need it," says the Government.
What if there's a coronavirus outbreak in Devon?
We've developed new measures to contain and reduce cases of coronavirus in Devon, and safeguard the health of our residents.
It's called the Local Outbreak Management Plan and it details how we will work together to help reduce the risk of outbreaks in the county, and if they do occur, identify them quickly and provide a rapid response to prevent the virus spreading.
Designed to support the national NHS Test and Trace Service, it is our local blueprint for action and builds on the effort everyone has made so far to keep infection rates here so low, protect each other and support the most vulnerable in our communities.
We are also helping other councils with their localised planning for coronavirus outbreak control as one of 11 authorities chosen by the government to share good practice across the country.
We've published the plan on our website, and it will be updated as new national guidance is published or legislation changes. You can also download a copy.
The details of our plan have been broken down into key areas, and we've created this special e-bulletin to give you a flavour of what's involved.
Working in partnership will be crucial to help prevent the spread of coronavirus and swiftly respond to local outbreaks.
That means involving all local councils and public sector organisations alongside businesses, the voluntary sector and communities, as well as continuing to work with the government and Public Health England.
Who is involved will depend on where an outbreak occurs, but it is critical that everyone understands the plan, role and actions they are expected to take in a response.
It's good that we can be a bit flexible locally, but it's also important that the way we work is consistent, so our Local Outbreak Management Plan includes some principles which the South West Regional Directors of Public Health have all agreed to. You can read them in full on our website.
They include things like making sure we let you know about the most up-to-date science, evidence and data and learning from one another to ensure we provide the most effective response we can.
There's also an explanation about who is responsible for the plan, and how they will be supported to deliver it.
Using data to make good decisions
We work very closely with Public Health England and are receiving up to the minute data from them about coronavirus cases in Devon.
We need to make the best use of timely, high-quality, local data to help us take informed decisions to control the transmission of coronavirus in Devon.
We've agreed a transparent and consistent approach to collecting and sharing data and intelligence across the South West so we can analyse, interpret and compare information easily.
This evidence is vital to our successful response to local outbreaks and will help us make the right decisions at the right time and share those decisions and why they have been made, with you.
Helping people and communities
An important part of our Local Outbreak Management Plan is about how we will support vulnerable people and communities and how we plan to respond to outbreaks in high-risk settings, such as schools and care homes.
We know that there are some people and communities who are at higher risk right now, including older people and those with underlying health conditions, refugees and asylum seekers, people with a learning disability and autism and BAME communities.
We're working with partners and the voluntary and community sector, to ensure that people and families who need additional support are able to find appropriate help.
It is important that our plan can be used to respond to all local coronavirus outbreaks, however, some places are possibly more likely than others to have outbreaks, or it maybe more challenging to manage an outbreak there because of the nature of the place or vulnerability of the people involved. For example, care homes, schools or a factory.
So we've got specific plans in place with pre-agreed actions to respond to outbreaks in these higher-risk settings.
Special online 'action cards' have been developed nationally for businesses and organisations to download and use to let them know what they should do if they suspect they have a coronavirus outbreak as well as guidance on what they can do to help prevent infection. We will add the 'action cards' to our website as soon as they are available.
Training and advice will also continue to be provided for those who work in higher-risk settings or with the most vulnerable people.
Testing and tracing
Our Local Outbreak Management Plan is designed to support the national NHS Test and Trace Service.
When someone tests positive for coronavirus the NHS Test and Trace service is notified. If a local outbreak is identified, we will work with partners to contain it.
Anyone in England who has symptoms of coronavirus, whatever their age, can get a test by going to the NHS website or by calling 119.
If you test positive, the NHS Test and Trace service will ask you for the details of anyone you've been in close contact with, and if necessary will inform them that they must self-isolate at home to help stop the spread of coronavirus.
If cases are linked to one particular place, for example a school, care home or workplace, it could be a local outbreak, in which case we will work with partners including Public Health England, to follow up cases and agree appropriate actions to contain the spread.
This could include mobilising local testing units, gathering more local information and providing infection control advice to everyone.
Communication and engagement
It is important that everyone has trust and confidence in how we plan to work together to help prevent local outbreaks in Devon, and manage them quickly and effectively if they do occur.
So providing up-to-date guidance, information and advice to our communities and partners is a vital element of our Local Outbreak Management Plan.
We all want Devon to recover from this pandemic as quickly and as safely as possible, and for that to happen everyone needs to understand the part they have to play in preventing local outbreaks.
This includes observing social distancing, wearing face coverings in enclosed public spaces where social distancing isn’t possible, for example on a bus or in a shop, and continuing to wash hands thoroughly and regularly.
Anyone with symptoms can get tested. You must book a test on the NHS website or call 119 if you have no internet access. If you test positive, please help the NHS Test and Trace service alert people you have been in contact with so that they can help us control infection levels by self-isolating.
If there is a local outbreak, we are well prepared to take action based on real-time data and the best scientific advice to help manage the spread of the virus. We will engage and involve those affected, and will keep people well informed and updated.
The coronavirus advice pages on our website will be regularly updated with the latest information and guidance. We will also work with with the local media and other partners such as MPs, district councils, businesses and community organisations to help important information reach all our residents.
The government has made around £300 million available to implement Local Outbreak Management Plans in order to manage local coronavirus outbreaks.
Responding to local outbreaks really is a team effort though. While it is led by our public health team, the skills and expertise of a wide range of organisations and professional groups are involved, including environmental health, infection prevent and control, health and social care, the NHS, health and safety, data and intelligence analysts, and communications.
The level of resource needed would totally depend on the extent or complexity of any outbreak.
Additional resources are available, including support specifically for vulnerable people who are instructed to self-isolate.
Have you got any questions or comments?
We want to make sure we’re giving you all the information you need so we hope you’ve found this email useful.
You may have questions about the Local Outbreak Management Plan, or you may want to know more about what happens if a cluster of positive cases is identified near you or your family.
We've listed some 'Frequently Asked Questions' (FAQs) on our website, and we will continue to update and add to them. If there are general questions not covered so far in our list, or you have any other comments on how we could improve this email, please give us your feedback.
It should take less than five minutes to provide feedback and all responses are anonymous. We’d really appreciate your help, thank you.