There’s an ongoing increase in COVID-19 cases across Devon, which is to be expected following the lifting of restrictions and greater freedom for people to socialise.
The highest case rates remain in the young age groups, mostly within younger working-age adults.
The weekly rate in Devon is currently 412 per 100,000 of the population, compared to 540 for England. All local authority districts are below the national average, except North Devon which has a rate of 563.
In this update:
- Look out for each other and keep doing your bit to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in Devon
- Grab a jab and help protect the things we love
- COVID-19 testing is more important than ever
- Ambulance service experiences busiest week in its history
- Local primary school pays tribute to NHS with a song
Look out for each other and keep doing your bit to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in Devon
This week England reached the fourth step of the government’s roadmap out of lockdown, with the majority of COVID-19 restrictions ending and replaced with guidance emphasising personal judgement and responsibility.
Steve Brown, Director of Public Health Devon, is urging residents to keep doing their bit to reduce the spread of coronavirus and to continue looking out for each other, particularly the most vulnerable, as we have done throughout the pandemic. He said:
“I want us to continue to be careful because positive cases in Devon are still rising. In fact at the moment we’ve got the highest rate of COVID-19 we’ve seen during the whole pandemic.
“I strongly feel that it is up to all of us to carry on doing everything we can to continue keeping each other safe.
“Many people, particularly if they are Clinically Extremely Vulnerable, have dreaded the day legal restrictions lift for fear of catching coronavirus. I understand that you’re in a difficult position, and you may be feeling worried about the current situation.
“Although the legal restrictions have lifted, our responsibility to members of our family, friends and society has not changed.
“I urge everyone in Devon to choose to do the right thing and keep doing your bit to reduce the spread of coronavirus by respecting the personal space of those around you, wearing a face covering in crowded areas, getting tested regularly, having both doses of the vaccine and washing your hands properly.
“We have been good at looking out for each other and helping those in need, so we need to respect those of us who will still be feeling anxious and behave in ways that protect them and ourselves from the risk of coronavirus.”
Grab a jab and help protect the things we love
All adults are being urged to get their first and second doses of a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible to protect themselves and the people around them.
Vaccinated people are far less likely to get COVID-19 with symptoms and even more unlikely to get serious cases of COVID-19, be admitted to hospital, or to die from it. There is also growing evidence that they are less likely to pass the virus on to others.
People who have been vaccinated with both doses do not have to quarantine on their return to England from an amber list country (except France), providing they received their second jab at least 14 days prior. And from Monday 16 August, double-vaccinated people will also no longer be legally required to self-isolate if they are identified as a close contact of a positive COVID-19 case.
Every adult in the UK has been offered a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and are able to get their second doses after eight weeks, which means every adult has the chance to have both doses by mid-September.
Vaccines are available free of charge from thousands of vaccine centres, GP practices and pharmacies. Visit the NHS website to book your COVID-19 vaccination as soon as possible.
Or if you don’t want to book, you can pop along to any of the participating walk-in clinics for your first and second dose with no appointment needed. You can search clinics dates and times in the South West on the NHS website.
COVID-19 testing is more important than ever
With rates of COVID-19 at the highest they’ve ever been in Devon, we’re reminding residents of the importance of regular testing to help keep everyone safe.
Testing, tracing close contacts and self-isolating is vital to managing the spread of coronavirus and reducing the risk of potentially dangerous variants spreading.
Some people might find it frustrating, or think it is pointless, but if you’re identified as a close contact of someone with COVID-19 you’re at least five times more likely to be infected than others. And even if you have been vaccinated you can still pass the virus on.
As more of us are out and about enjoying the freedom we’ve missed, we’re encouraging everyone in Devon to make regular symptom-free COVID-19 testing part of their everyday lives to help find cases that would otherwise go undetected and break the chains of transmission. Rapid lateral flow device (LFD) tests are readily available to do at home or at one of our many walk-in sites, and you’ll get your result within 30 minutes.
If you develop COVID-19 symptoms, you must stay at home and self-isolate, along with anyone you live with, and take a free PCR test to confirm whether or not you have the virus. If you test positive, you will still need to self-isolate regardless of your age or vaccination status.
Ambulance service experiences busiest week in its history
South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) is urging people to use its service sensibly after experiencing its busiest week on record for the second time so far this month – responding to the equivalent of one incident every 26 seconds!
Ahead of what is expected to be a very busy school summer holiday period in the South West, SWASFT says it must continue to prioritise speaking to and treating the most seriously injured and unwell patients.
To allow it to prioritise patients effectively, the Trust is asking everyone who uses its service to do so sensibly. People should only call 999 in a genuine, life-threatening emergency.
People with non-life threatening but urgent medical problems should call 111 or visit the NHS 111 website.
Demonstrate your COVID-19 vaccination status with the free NHS app
More than 10 million people are now using the free NHS app. Have you downloaded it yet?
It’s not the same as the NHS Test and Trace app. This one was launched before the pandemic in 2019 to give people a simple and secure way to access a range of NHS services on their smartphone or tablet – for example booking and managing appointments at their GP surgery, ordering repeat prescriptions and searching trusted information on hundreds of conditions and treatments.
And now you can also view and share your COVID Pass via the app to show your proof of vaccination, which will help you to travel abroad and start returning to workplaces.
The government will also work with organisations that operate large, crowded settings including nightclubs, to use the NHS COVID Pass as a condition of entry.
Local primary school pays tribute to NHS with a song
Year four children at Hazeldown Primary School in Teignmouth have written and performed a beautifully uplifting song to thank the NHS for everything they’ve done during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kit Hardee, Assistant Headteacher at Hazeldown Primary School, worked on the song with the children. He said:
“At Hazeldown we pride ourselves on giving our pupils a real purpose for their learning. As part of their music topic in Year Four, the children had to cover the curriculum objectives of writing and performing music.
“We asked them to think about what was important to them and what impact they wanted their song to have. They all agreed that they wanted to thank NHS staff for what they’ve done during the pandemic.
“The children worked in groups to gather ideas for the lyrics and I worked alongside them to help the song take shape. It was then recorded and produced by local music producer, Dan Sheldon.
“The children have been incredibly inspired by the process and are so proud that their song is being enjoyed and celebrated by so many NHS workers!”
Well done to everyone involved, we think it’s brilliant – have a watch on the school’s YouTube channel.
Think 111 first and get the right treatment
The NHS in Devon is reminding people how to access health services and get the care they need this summer. The holiday season traditionally puts extra pressure on health services when more residents and visitors are outdoors enjoying everything Devon has to offer.
For urgent advice people are encouraged to ‘Think 111 First’ and contact NHS 111 from anywhere, either by phone or online, any time of day or night. If you need further care or medication, NHS 111 advisors will direct you to the most appropriate service.
Local pharmacies can provide expert advice and a fast route to medication for minor ailments like aches and pains, colds, earache and skin rashes. They are open until late and at weekends with no need for an appointment. Visit the NHS website to find your nearest pharmacy and check opening times.
The HANDi app has been developed by paediatric consultants to give parents more confidence in dealing with minor conditions at home and help reduce the number of children and young people who visit A&E, but do not need treatment. It provides up-to-date advice for common childhood conditions and illnesses and how to treat them as well as information about when and how to ask for help. It’s free to download to your phone or tablet, just visit the NHS Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) website.
Almost 100% of people have antibodies after second vaccine
Recent data from Imperial College London highlights the importance of getting both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine for the best possible protection against infection as restrictions are eased.
Over 207,000 people took part in their study for COVID-19 antibodies between 12 and 25 May 2021, and almost 100 per cent of them tested positive for antibodies 14 or more days after their second dose of the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccine.
Following one dose of either vaccine, the proportion of people testing positive for antibodies peaked at four to five weeks after first dose and then started to decline before rising substantially in those who had a second dose.
Digital COVID-19 passport scam
Please beware of the latest coronavirus scam, which asks people for payment in exchange for a ‘coronavirus digital passport’.
The email claims to come from the NHS and says it will “allow you to travel safely and freely around the world without having to self-isolate” if you’ve had a COVID-19 vaccine or have recently recovered from the virus. It asks people to click a button to access their “digital passport” which then takes you to a fake NHS website asking for personal information and payment details.
If you receive this email please forward it to firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have disclosed bank account details you should contact your bank immediately and notify Action Fraud.
Views sought on new proposals for next year’s school exams
The Department for Education (DfE) and Ofqual are asking students, parents and teachers what they think about new proposals for changes to assessments of GCSEs, AS and A levels which will be taken in summer 2022.
The consultation proposes a range of measures to help mitigate the impact of disruption to students’ education.
Ofqual and the DfE are also running a consultation on arrangements for vocational, technical and other general qualifications.
You can find local guidance and information about the impacts on our services on the Devon County Council website.