Cases of coronavirus in Devon have increased over the last week, and are now similar to the national average rate of 376 cases per 100,000 people. They’re currently highest in the 10 to 14 year old age groups. Torridge district has the highest weekly case rates, at 493 cases per 100,000 people.
In this update:
- Extra £8.5 million to help Devon deal with COVID-19 over winter
- An appeal for help as care worker shortage gets worse
- Don’t forget to redeem your holiday vouchers for half term
- Communities benefit from £200k funding to help them reconnect rebuild and recover
- Stop smoking and start moving this Stoptober
- It’s not too late to have your first or second COVID-19 vaccine dose
Extra £8.5 million to help Devon deal with COVID-19 over winter
We’ve agreed a further £8.5 million package of support for local communities to deal with the ongoing impacts of COVID-19 over the winter and beyond.
It includes over £5 million of extra support for schools, colleges and the University of Exeter, £1.5 million additional support for outbreak management in care settings, a £1 million fund for voluntary sector groups to support local community projects aimed at supporting vulnerable people, as well as schemes aimed at young people and rough sleepers.
It’s part of our £20 million share of a national Contain Outbreak Management Fund (COMF), which all local authorities access, to help manage the pandemic and its impact on local communities.
So far, that funding has been spent on vital elements of our response, such as local community testing facilities and contact tracing; infection prevention and control in care homes and other settings; vaccination outreach assistance; support for youth services, early years and care settings; public mental health support; and rough sleeper support.
An appeal for help as care worker shortage gets worse
The shortage of care workers in England now is greater than it was pre-pandemic, according to national charity, Skills for Care. Care providers everywhere are struggling to find enough staff. Many are turning down new requests for help, and juggling rotas and home visits while doing the best they can to care for vulnerable clients.
In Devon, around 2,000 additional care workers are needed to fill growing numbers of vacancies, and demand for care is rising. People needing care are finding it very difficult to source; and people already getting help are seeing changes to their visits while their care providers respond to higher demand without having the staff numbers they need. But it’s not just social care.
“There are more people in Devon today who quite simply need help, than there are people to provide it,” said our Cabinet Member responsible for adult care and health, Cllr James McInnes.
“I’m talking about help with shopping, picking up prescriptions, preparing a meal, or company because they’re lonely.”
If you have experience of caring for someone and are keen to work in the care sector, we want to hear from you. There’s one to one support to help you, and free training. If you can be a Personal Assistant, we can help with advice and guidance. If you have time to volunteer to help people in your local community, we can help put you in touch.
Don’t forget to redeem your holiday vouchers for half term
If your child currently receives free school meals, we’re sending supermarket vouchers worth £15 per child per week of the October half term to help you buy food during the holiday.
The letter or email containing information about how to access the vouchers will be sent to the main contact details we have on record, which is usually the parent that made the original application for free school meals.
You should receive it by Friday 22 October, so please get in touch with our free school meals team after then if you were expecting to receive one but didn’t. You can email them at email@example.com or call our education helpline on 0345 155 1019.
Many families in Devon have seen their financial circumstances change due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. If you didn’t previously qualify for free school meals but your income has reduced or stopped, the quickest and easiest way for your eligibility to be assessed is through our website and you will get an instant decision. Alternatively, contact our education helpline on 0345 155 1019.
More detailed information about the free school meals holiday voucher scheme is available on our website.
Communities benefit from £200k funding to help them reconnect rebuild and recover
Community-led facilities and activities, like many things, were quickly suspended during the onset of the national coronavirus lockdown.
When life slowly started returning to some degree of normality we were keen to help local communities get back to doing the things they love safely and confidently, so we created a special fund to support them.
Over the last three months our Reconnect Rebuild Recover Community Fund has provided over £217,000 grant funding to 131 organisations across Devon to help local people to reconnect, rebuild and recover their community-led facilities and/or social activities.
The money is being used to support people to participate in activities that improve their physical, mental and emotional health and wellbeing; provide safe community-led transportation links and services which encourage and help people to re-connect and re-socialise safely within their communities and encourage people to develop skills and learning through volunteering their time, knowledge and expertise to help and support the facilities and/or social activity and the people using them.
Applications for funding will close at midday on Wednesday 27 October. You can find out more, including how to apply, on our website.
NHS encourages pregnant women to get COVID-19 vaccine
New data shows that nearly 20 per cent of the most critically ill coronavirus patients are pregnant women who have not been vaccinated.
Thirty-three year old mum-to-be, Claire, who spent nearly a month in an NHS hospital’s critical care unit after catching coronavirus during her pregnancy has joined the NHS in urging pregnant women to get the life-saving COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible. She said:
“I completely understand the hesitation not to get vaccinated when you are growing a child inside you, and after experiencing two miscarriages before the pandemic, the fear of being pregnant again with the worry of COVID-19 was sending my anxiety through the roof. But after what happened, I can honestly say that the risk of not having the COVID-19 vaccine far outweighs any doubts about having it.”
Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent, Chief Midwifery Officer for England, said:
“You can receive vaccination at any time in pregnancy, but the risks that unvaccinated pregnant women face of becoming severely unwell if they catch COVID-19 show exactly why we advise you to do so as soon as possible.”
Having the COVID-19 vaccination in pregnancy is considered safe and is recommended by the Royal College of Obstetricians, Royal College of Midwives and the government’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation as one of the best defences for pregnant women against severe COVID-19 infection.
Stop smoking and start moving this Stoptober
The COVID-19 pandemic has really highlighted the importance of taking care of ourselves, and giving up smoking is one of the best things you’ll ever do for your health.
Smoking damages the lungs and airways and harms the immune system, leaving you more vulnerable to infections, so our Public Health team is keen to help people take the first step towards quitting for good.
As part of the national ‘Stoptober’ campaign, which runs throughout October, we’re encouraging all smokers in Devon to stop smoking and start moving this winter.
Steve Brown, our Director of Public Health, said:
“When you stop smoking, you give your lungs the chance to repair and you’ll notice immediate improvements to your health, no matter how long you’ve been a smoker.
“Quitting takes willpower, determination and the right level of support, so don’t feel like you have to go it alone – there’s plenty of advice, guidance and available to help you.
“If you can make it to 28 days smoke-free, you’re five times more likely to quit for good, so if you have been considering it, Stoptober is a great opportunity to join millions of others in the challenge.”
If you think you could benefit from some free support and tailored advice to stop smoking get in touch with our healthy lifestyle service, One Small Step today. One of their dedicated practitioners will work with you to put a personalised plan together on the most effective way for you to quit smoking and provide you with free nicotine replacement products.
You can also visit the NHS website for a range of free digital services including the Stoptober app, a free personal quit plan, access to online support communities and daily emails.
Booster jabs for health and social care staff
If you work in health and social care and had your second COVID-19 vaccination at least six months ago, you can now go to the Greendale vaccination site in Exeter without an appointment to get your booster jab.
It’s open from 8.30am until 7.00pm, seven days a week until Sunday 24 October.
You will need to take your work identity badge and proof of employment such as a current payslip or letter from your employer.
If you would prefer an appointment, you can complete a form for either the English Riviera Centre in Torquay or Newton Abbot Racecourse and the vaccination site will send you a text message with a booking link allowing you to choose a date and time to attend.
Or you can book online via the National Booking Service or by calling 119.
It’s not too late to have your first or second COVID-19 vaccine dose
People in Devon are being reminded it’s not too late to get their first or second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
You might just not have got round to having it yet, or maybe you were initially unsure about whether to have it at all, but there’s still time to get it done.
Having both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and others from coronavirus and the potential long term effects.
According to a study by King’s College London, your chances of developing Long Covid halve after the second vaccine dose, and it also significantly reduces the severity of symptoms and your chances of needing treatment in hospital.
Ross Bright from Devon is fit and healthy and in his 20s. He caught coronavirus shortly after his first jab and was surprised how unwell he was: He said
“My initial perception of coronavirus was that it was like a bad cold, but I was bedridden for a week with a chesty cough, incredibly sore eyes and a migraine. I still have a chesty cough. I’m incredibly grateful to have had the first jab. My friend who hadn’t had either dose ended up in hospital.”
Leigh Mansfield, Operational Lead for Exeter Greendale COVID-19 Vaccination Centre said:
“As the autumn weather gets colder and wetter it’s harder to meet friends and family outside. It’s really important to have both jabs so that if you do catch COVID-19 you reduce the chances of passing on the virus and you’re less likely to be as poorly.”
NHS COVID Pass for 16 and 17 year olds
Some 16 and 17 year olds have asked how they can get an NHS COVID Pass, as they are only eligible for one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Children under 18 years old do not have to demonstrate their COVID-19 status for entry to domestic events or venues in England.
Children aged 16 years old or over can get an NHS COVID Pass for international travel but should follow the entry requirements of the country they are travelling to.
Simplified new travel system
The government has introduced a new simplified travel system, with countries and territories categorised as either red or the rest of the world.
It means that eligible fully vaccinated passengers and eligible under-18 year olds returning from over 50 countries and territories, not on the red list, can do so without needing to complete a pre-departure test (PDT), a day eight test or enter a 10-day self-isolation period, making it easier for those travelling – whether that’s to see friends and family, or on business trips.
And from Sunday 24 October fully vaccinated passengers and most under 18 year olds arriving in England from countries not on the red list can take a cheaper lateral flow device (LFD) test, instead of a PCR test, on or before day two of their arrival into the UK. These can be booked from Friday 22 October when the list of approved private providers will go live on government’s website.
Passengers will need to take a photo of their LFD test and booking reference supplied by the private provider and send it back to them to verify the result. Anyone testing positive will need to isolate and take a confirmatory PCR test as soon as possible.
All arrivals will still need to fill in a passenger locator form ahead of travel, and people should continue to check the government website for the latest travel advice before, during and after travel to keep up to date with entry requirements and ensure compliance with the latest COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 regulations for the country being visited.
You can find local guidance and information about the impacts on our services on the Devon County Council website.