Positive coronavirus case numbers in Devon remain below the national average. Cases are most prevalent in those aged 40 to 59 years old, with the highest rates reported in the Teignbridge area. Overall levels in Devon are approximately what they were last September.
In this update:
- Be cautious, if we’re to avoid an upturn in cases
- Our rapid testing vehicles are stopping at more locations across Devon
- First virtual jobs fair to match employers with highly skilled learners
- Children in Devon asked their hopes for post-COVID-19 future
- Training offered through SMART SKILLS partnership
Be cautious, if we’re to avoid an upturn in cases
Positive cases of coronavirus in Devon have levelled off, following a period of decline.
“Now is another critical time, if we’re to avoid an upturn in cases again,” said Steve Brown, Director for Public Health Devon.
Until recently case numbers in Devon had been falling, but the data for the latest available week show rates are stabilising.
“The latest data is beginning to cover the period since restrictions have eased. At the same time, the vaccines are rolling out to younger priority groups.
“Naturally there’s optimism in the air, and although that’s good news, I do want to repeat the need for us all to remain very cautious, otherwise we will start to see those case numbers in Devon rising again.
“Right now, the vaccine alone is not the single solution. It’s vital that the measures that we’re all familiar with – keeping our distance, wearing face coverings when indoors in public spaces, and washing our hands regularly – remain part of our everyday lives.
“The restrictions at the moment allow meeting in groups of up to six, or two households, outdoors only. So while the evenings are still a little cool, please do not be tempted to take your gathering indoors. Outdoors, in the fresh air, is safer as it reduces the chance of the virus being transmitted.”
Check out the Public Health Matters blog to read about how we can best protect ourselves and each other as we move out of lockdown.
Our rapid testing vehicles are stopping at more locations across Devon
Holsworthy and Moretonhampstead are the latest communities to join a growing list of locations where our mobile COVID-19 community testing is available.
All adults are now encouraged to take two rapid lateral flow tests for coronavirus each week.
The tests are for people who show no symptoms of having coronavirus. It’s because one in three people with the virus don’t show symptoms, so it’s vital that those people are identified quickly and can self-isolate to stop the spread.
Mobile testing vehicles are now visiting locations right across Devon, and the latest additions to the list mean that we’ve had to reschedule our timetables.
For the latest information on where our mobile testing vehicles are visiting, and when, please visit our website.
First virtual jobs fair to match employers with highly skilled learners
Since January, free training has been available to adults who are out of work, returning to work, or in-work but wanting to advance, to teach them skills that are needed in key industries in Devon.
They’re skills that labour market intelligence indicates are in short supply in Devon, but in demand, including cyber, data science, digital healthcare, software, digital marketing, IT, welding, photonics, engineering, construction and electronics.
The training courses were very well attended, and those trainees have now completed their learning and are ready for employment. Next month there will be the first virtual jobs fair where employers from across the region will be showcasing their businesses to the new highly skilled individuals who have completed their intensive 12-week training.
The jobs fair on Wednesday 26 May will focus on digital and technical sectors. Digital and technical employers are now invited to register for free to host a virtual table at the fair where visitors can learn about their business, have informal chats and arrange interview opportunities.
Children in Devon asked their hopes for post-COVID-19 future
Children in Devon are being asked to tell the government about their experiences of the coronavirus pandemic and hopes for the future.
It’s called ‘The Big Ask’ survey, and is being led by the Children’s Commissioner for England, Dame Rachel de Souza.
The survey will be the largest consultation with children in England and hopes to help shape the way the government approaches issues affecting children.
It runs until Wednesday 19 May and asks children across England to set out their priorities for improving their lives following the pandemic.
There are four main versions of the survey, aimed at children in the age groups four to five years old, six to eight years old, nine to twelve years old and thirteen to seventeen years old. There are also two easy read versions of the survey, and an adult version for parents, care leavers and people who work with children to share their views.
Please encourage the children and young people you know to take part via their school or college or the Children’s Commissioner’s website.
More pharmacies are distributing free rapid lateral flow home test kits
Nine in ten pharmacies across England are now distributing free rapid lateral flow tests for people to collect and use at home.
As well as our mobile community testing sites, where our staff can assist you with your test, you can also choose to take rapid lateral flow tests at home.
You can collect them from our mobile community testing sites, or from the growing number of participating pharmacies.
The Pharmacy Collect service is available to people over 18 years old without symptoms of coronavirus.
There’s an online checker to help you find your nearest pharmacy offering the free rapid test kits.
Alternatively, you can order home test kits online for delivery to your door.
Doors reopen at Devon’s youth centres this week
Young people across Devon have welcomed the reopening of their youth centres this week.
“It’s been good to be back,” said one young person from Barnstaple. “The youth centre was a place that me and my friends could chill and speak about stuff.”
“I just enjoy having it open again, socialising with people,” said another.
Youth centres have been closed during lockdown, but during that time, SPACE, who run youth services on our behalf, has developed new ways of staying in touch with young people remotely.
But they’ve also maintained their physical presence in communities, with youth workers still engaging with young people on the streets to improve social connectedness and to keep young people safe.
“We’re really excited with where we are at the moment,” says Jen Whitley, SPACE’s Head of Innovation.
“We’ve built the service well over the last year and young people have found it invaluable during these really difficult times.
“We’ve got great ideas for how to expand on that, to increase access to our services and to reach more young people.
“We’re really pleased to be reopening our doors again, but doing so really carefully and following all the COVID rules to ensure that our sessions and venues are COVID-safe.”
10 million people receive second dose of COVID-19 vaccine
Over 10 million people in the UK have now received their second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. The milestone means over 19% of adults (which is almost one in five) have had both jabs.
Everybody in the government’s vaccination priority groups one to nine – those aged 50 and over, the clinically vulnerable and health and social care workers – has been offered a first vaccine dose. The roll out remains on track to offer a jab to all adults by the end of July, with those aged over 45 years old being invited to book their first vaccination now. We strongly encourage you to take up your vaccine when offered or book your vaccination through the national system when it’s your turn.
With each vaccination more people will soon develop strong protection from serious illness from COVID-19 infection, saving countless lives and significantly reducing pressure on the NHS. Data from Public Health England’s (PHE) real-world study shows the vaccines are already having a significant impact in the UK, reducing hospitalisations and deaths, saving more than 10,000 lives between December and March.
All vaccines being used in the UK have undergone robust clinical trials and have met the independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency’s (MHRA) strict standards of safety, effectiveness and quality.
Training offered through SMART SKILLS partnership
Devon businesses and residents are being encouraged to take advantage of European Social Funding worth £3.5 million.
SMART SKILLS funding will help Devon-based small or medium sized businesses and other organisations to identify skills gaps in their existing workforce and provide the skills training needed to help them become more resilient during these difficult economic times.
The SMART SKILLS project is also aimed at Devon adults who are employed and looking for training options; are unemployed; have recently been made redundant or are currently on furlough.
New advice on COVID-19 vaccination for pregnant women
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has advised that pregnant women should be offered the COVID-19 vaccine at the same time as the rest of the population, based on their age and clinical risk group.
There have been no specific safety concerns identified with any brand of coronavirus vaccines in relation to pregnancy.
Real-world data from the United States shows that around 90,000 pregnant women have been vaccinated, mainly with mRNA vaccines including Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, without any safety concerns being raised.
Based on this data, the JCVI advises that it’s preferable for pregnant women in the UK to be offered the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines where available. There is no evidence to suggest that other vaccines are unsafe for pregnant women, but more research is needed.
The JCVI will continue to closely monitor the evidence on COVID-19 vaccination in pregnancy and will update its advice as required.
All vaccines being used in the UK have undergone robust clinical trials and have met the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA)’s strict standards of safety, effectiveness and quality.
You can find local guidance and information about the impacts on our services on the Devon County Council website.