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How to do your bit to help the NHS this winter; 12 to 15 year olds invited for vaccinations; Prevention is multi-layered and we need all its layers to be effective

Coronavirus cases in graph - 4238 this week

We are continuing to see an increase in COVID-19 case rates across Devon, but the rate has slowed. 

The highest rates continue to be in the 0 to 19 age groups, most predominantly within those aged 10 to 14 years. 

Devon’s case rate is above the national average, but is one of the lowest rates across the South West.

West Devon has the highest district rate in Devon currently, although case rates here have reduced.

Stay safe this Halloween

In this update:

NHS do you bit this winter

How to do your bit to help the NHS this winter

The NHS and Devon Public Health are urging people to help reduce the spread of the COVID-19 and flu viruses by following a few simple steps.

It follows an almost doubling in the number of patients in Devon hospitals with coronavirus since the beginning of October. And the NHS expect those numbers to rise. 

This, on top of existing pressures on the local health and care system, is why the public are now being reminded that they can play a key role in keeping case numbers down. 

Here’s what you can do: 

  • ensure that you are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, including having a booster dose if you are eligible 
  • have the seasonal flu vaccination 
  • continue to follow social distancing measures, wear a mask where appropriate and wash your hands frequently 
  • avoid visiting people in hospital if you have sickness or diarrhoea 
  • self-isolate and take a PCR test if you have symptoms of COVID-19 
  • carry out regular lateral flow tests 
young person getting jab

12 to 15 year olds invited for vaccinations

The NHS is writing to parents and guardians of 12 to 15 year olds, inviting them to book a COVID-19 vaccination appointment on the National Booking System or by calling 119. 

You can choose where your child receives the vaccine – either at a vaccination centre, or at their school. 

Parents or guardians can attend the appointment to a vaccination centre with their child, and consent will be sought on the day. 

If your child prefers to have their vaccination at school, they should wait for the school vaccination team or school to contact them. 

The Devon vaccination centres are at: 

  • Home Park, Plymouth, PL2 3DQ 
  • Greendale Vaccination Centre, Woodbury Salterton, Exeter, EX5 1EW 
  • English Riviera Centre, Chestnut Avenue, Torquay, TQ2 5LZ 
  • Barnstaple Leisure Centre, Seven Brethren Bank, Sticklepath, Barnstaple EX31 2AP 

More information on our website.

Young person wearing face covering outdoors

Prevention is multi-layered and we need all its layers to be effective

We’ve drawn inspiration from Swiss cheese this week, and shared an analogy used by the BBC to describe the importance of all prevention measures, in the fight against coronavirus. 

Case rates are rising. The vaccination programme is going well, with booster jabs among our older and eligible population, and vaccinations now available for 12 to 15 year olds. 

But as effective as the vaccine is, it can’t be used in isolation as a measure to combat coronavirus. 

The Swiss Cheese analogy describes prevention as a range of different Swiss cheese slices. On their own, they’re less effective, but combined, they offer much more protection against viruses. 

It argues that alongside the vaccine, we need face coverings, regular hand washing, testing, socialising outdoors, distancing – all of these measures add up to a more effective level of protection and prevention than just one on its own. 

We like the analogy, and thought it was worth sharing. 

Young person looking at text messages

COVID-19 test scam alert!

A scam text message has been doing the rounds this week, saying: 

‘NHS: You have been in contact with someone who has COVID-19. You must self-isolate for 7 days and order a PCR Testing Kit.’ 

It then directs you to a link designed to look genuine at first glance, but take a closer look and you’ll see that it doesn’t link to the real NHS website. And if you click on the link, it could then ask you to pay for a testing kit. 

This is a scam. If you receive a text like this, please delete it. Do not click on the link or respond to the message. 

You can find out how you would be genuinely be contacted by NHS Test and Trace online.

Nasal spray for flu

All you need to know about flu

We published a special vaccine-themed Connect Me update this week with all you need to know about flu. You can read it here. 

It’s especially important that eligible children aged two or three years old (on the 31 August) are offered the flu vaccine this year.

For most children, the vaccine will be given as a spray in each nostril, which is very quick and painless. And it can be given at your GP surgery, usually by the Practice Nurse.

All pregnant women are also eligible for the free flu vaccine. There’s evidence that pregnant women have a higher chance of complications if they get flu, particularly in later stages of pregnancy.

Find out more about the flu jab in pregnancy.

Node Hub: Picture By Jim Wileman – The opening of the new Node Cowork facility in Barnstaple
Picture By Jim Wileman – The opening of the new Node co-working facility in Barnstaple

Node launches to support businesses and grow local economy

We’ve opened a new enterprise centre in Barnstaple, that aims to create jobs and boost the local economy. 

It’s called Node. It’s the flagship development at our Roundswell Enterprise Park, and it’s really important for the county’s economic recovery and growth as we emerge from the pandemic.

It will support Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs), start-up companies, freelancers and local workers in the Barnstaple and surrounding areas of North Devon and Torridge. 

It’s got 37 small and medium offices, co-working space for up to 50 people, meeting rooms and an on-site coffee shop. 

It’s also been designed and built to be energy efficient, achieving a 25 per cent reduction in carbon emissions compared to Building Regulations standards. 

With 64 per cent of its office space let within just eight months, it’s already ahead of its two-year target. 

But it’s not just office space. Node provides a range of expert-led support, from access to investors and one-to-one mentorship, through to after-hours start up clubs. 

And with a planned second phase expansion that we’re investing in – aiming to open by 2023 – the centre will support even more SMEs and start-ups in North Devon and Torridge as we look to build back an even stronger and more resilient local economy.  

To learn more about Node or to see how you could get support to run your business, you can visit www.thetownsquare.co.uk, or email barnstaple@townsq.co.uk.

Taking a lateral flow test

Lateral flow reminder before heading back to school or college

Secondary school and college pupils are reminded to take their lateral flow tests the evening before they return to the classroom. 

Pupils not showing any symptoms of coronavirus should take the test prior to return. But anyone who has developed symptoms over the half-term holiday must self-isolate and arrange a PCR test. 

Lateral flow tests can be collected for free from your local pharmacy, but remember that pharmacies now ask for a collection code. 

Registering for a collection code is very easy and instant, so don’t let it put you off.

Arriving at airport

COVID-19 test rules change for passengers

Travel rules changed this week.

The remaining seven countries on the UK government’s COVID-19 travel red list will be removed from Monday 1 November.

Fully-vaccinated arrivals from Ecuador, the Dominican Republic, Colombia, Peru, Panama, Haiti and Venezuela will no longer have to quarantine in a hotel.

But the red list system will be kept in place and a country could be added back on it if cases rise there.

Eligible fully vaccinated passengers arriving in England from countries not on the UK’s red list can now take a cheaper lateral flow test, instead of a PCR test. 

Lateral flow tests must be taken as soon as possible on the day of arrival in England, or at the latest before the end of a passenger’s second day. 

But the tests must be purchased from a list of private providers on the GOV.UK website. 

That’s because NHS lateral flow tests cannot be used for international travel. 

Any passengers who have already bought a PCR test to use for travel can still use it. 

For more information, visit the government’s website. 

pumpkins

And finally, enjoy the season’s festivities safely

With Halloween upon us, and Bonfire Night quick on its heels, many people may be out this weekend to celebrate the occasion.

With coronavirus case rates in Devon still above the national average, we’re reminding people to remain alert, and to do all you can to protect yourselves and your families from catching or spreading coronavirus.

We want people to enjoy themselves – that’s a given – but as coronavirus is an airborne virus, any gathering of people, especially indoors, increases the risk of transmission.

So enjoy the weekend, but wrap up warm and celebrate outside.

If meeting indoors with people you don’t live with, make sure it’s well ventilated – leave the window or door open to let fresh air in.

We’ve published a few tips to help celebrate the season safely on our website.

Read more at devon.gov.uk/news