Weekly case rates in Devon remain high (363 per 100,000) and above the national average (308 per 100,000), and are continuing to increase. The highest case rates are among 15 to 19 year olds and the younger working age population, with case rates currently highest in Exeter, Teignbridge and North Devon. (Weekly rates are correct as of midday, Friday 20 August 2021).
In this update:
- Festivals, large events and coronavirus
- Mobile testing units to also deliver vaccinations
- 16 and 17 year olds invited for COVID-19 vaccine
- Devon’s care sector urgently needs your help
Festivals, large events and coronavirus
As hundreds of people return to Devon following days at the Boardmasters festival, we’ve been asked what the impact festivals and large events are having on local coronavirus case rates in Devon.
Festivals, and any such large gatherings where there are a lot of people crowded together, are environments that bring with them heightened risk of transmission.
And when audiences to those gatherings include younger people, who are not all vaccinated, then the risk of transmission again is greater.
The same is true though of any event or setting where there’s socialising. It’s not just festivals.
So perhaps it should not surprise us that the highest levels of positive cases in Devon now are in the 15 to 19 year old age group, and that socialising is the main driver for that trend.
Mobile testing units to also deliver vaccinations
For months, we’ve been operating a fleet of mobile testing units that deliver lateral flow tests for people who have no symptoms of coronavirus, in towns across the county.
It’s one of the main ways of stopping the spread of coronavirus, by identifying people likely to have the virus and asking them to self-isolate pending a full, laboratory-analysed, PCR test.
We’ve now partnered-up with the local NHS to use our mobile testing vehicles to deliver vaccinations, as well as lateral flow tests, to targeted areas – where there is low vaccine uptake for example, or to target specific groups in the community.
Steve Brown, Director of Public Health Devon, said:
“The COVID-19 vaccines are proven to help reduce the likelihood of becoming seriously unwell, needing hospital treatment or dying of coronavirus-related illness. It also helps reduce the risk of transmission for people who have the virus. So it’s really important that people have the vaccine when it’s offered to them.
“Take-up of the vaccine in Devon has been very good, but there are still pockets where it’s below average. We and the local NHS are working together to take the vaccine to those areas to improve take-up. Our mobile testing units are the perfect vehicles, literally, to get the vaccine to harder to reach audiences.”
We’ve just done a pilot run in Kingsbridge this week, and have pencilled in stops in Exeter for early next month. Keep an eye on our social media channels to find out more.
16 and 17 year olds invited for COVID-19 vaccine
Young people aged 16 and 17 years in Devon are now being invited to book their COVID-19 vaccine.
People aged 16 to 17 years and 9 months can either wait to be invited by their GP for an appointment, or attend a walk-in session. Proof of identification at walk-in vaccination centres is not necessary, but having your NHS number would be helpful. You can find your NHS number online.
Young people will be given the Pfizer vaccine, in line with the recommendation of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.
To encourage take-up, a national campaign has been launched across social media channels including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and TikTok, as well as on radio stations.
Devon’s care sector urgently needs your help
Devon’s care sector is struggling right now, as coronavirus and other illness are leaving care workers unable to work.
It means care providers can’t do all the things they want to do to support people, and that vulnerable people are at risk of not receiving the care they need when they need it.
“The situation is becoming unsustainable,” said our Cabinet Member responsible for adult care and health, Cllr James McInnes.
We put out an appeal earlier this week calling for people to come forward to work in the care sector, even if it’s just for the next few months to help over this period of greatest pressure.
Cllr James McInnes and Dr Len Lofts, Chief Executive of Northam Care Trust, spoke to ITV Westcountry, and they described the picture in Devon.
Devon has an army of care workers in care homes, people’s own homes, and other settings up and down the county every day, helping and supporting those that can’t look after themselves. But we need more.
If you have worked in care before or are considering it now, please contact us. Register your interest by visiting the Proud to Care website, leaving your name, contact details and a postcode, and our recruitment team will get back to you.
Or you can search for the latest care job vacancies, apprenticeships and training opportunities in the care sector in Devon.
COVID-19 vaccines offer good protection against new infections
A new study has shown that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, though initially less effective, offers the same levels of protection against coronavirus after four to five months as the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
Both COVID-19 vaccines still offer good protection against new infections, but effectiveness is reduced compared with the Alpha variant.
Research published this week by the University of Oxford and the Nuffield Department of Medicine looked at the impact of the Delta variant – the dominant variant in the UK now – and vaccine effectiveness.
It found that two doses of either vaccine provides at least the same level of protection as having had COVID-19 before through natural infection.
People who had been vaccinated after already being infected with COVID-19 had even more protection than vaccinated people who hadn’t had the virus.
The study also found that the time between doses does not impact effectiveness in preventing new infections, but younger people have even more protection from vaccination than older people.
RNLI lifeguards issue safety warnings
Lots more of us are holidaying in the UK this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, and the recent damp and windy August weather has not put beach goers off.
RNLI lifeguards across the south west are reporting busy beaches and an increase in the number of incidents they are dealing with.
And if the weather forecast is to be believed, a spell of welcome sunshine and surf is predicted for the coming weeks, coupled with big tides, so the charity’s life savers are urging beach goers to be aware of the conditions and their capabilities, to head to a lifeguarded beach and to heed safety advice before going into the water.
The key summer safety advice is:
- visit a lifeguarded beach and swim between the red and yellow flags
- if you get into trouble Float to Live – lie on your back and relax, resisting the urge to thrash about
- call 999 in an emergency and ask for the Coastguard
You can find local guidance and information about the impacts on our services on the Devon County Council website.