COVID-19 case rates in Devon continue to be above the national average.
The highest rates are in the zero to 19 year old and 40 to 59 year old age groups, although rates for both groups have continued to reduce.
In this edition:
- Test and Trace still plays an essential part in reducing COVID-19 transmission and outbreaks
- COVID-19 vaccination to be a condition of employment for health and social care staff
- There’s still time to have your lifesaving COVID-19 vaccine
- Farmers invited to a free wellbeing and mental health support webinar
- Stop COVID-19 hanging around
- Devon Remembers
Test and Trace still plays an essential part in reducing COVID-19 transmission and outbreaks
The NHS Test and Trace programme is continuing to identify people who are known to have been in close proximity to anyone who has tested positive for coronavirus via a PCR test.
In Devon, our team is helping to trace those close contacts and advise them on further steps to reduce risk to themselves and others.
Known contacts of people who test positive for COVID-19 no longer have to self-isolate if they’re fully vaccinated or aged under 18 years and six months. But people can still catch coronavirus even if they are fully vaccinated, and spread it to others even before they show any symptoms.
Devon’s Director of Public Health, Steve Brown, said:
“Contact tracing continues to be an essential part of reducing coronavirus transmission and containing outbreaks.
“If you are contacted by the tracing team, or you receive a message from the Test and Trace app to tell you that you’ve been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, please be extra cautious.
“If you are fully vaccinated or under 18 years and six months, take a PCR test to see if you have also caught the virus and self-isolate if you test positive. If the PCR test result is negative please look out for symptoms, continue to test regularly with lateral flow device tests, and follow the public health guidance around wearing face coverings, fresh air and good hand hygiene.
“If you’re traced as a contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 and you’re not fully vaccinated, you are required to self-isolate because you are at greater risk of catching and passing on the virus.”
COVID-19 vaccination to be a condition of employment for health and social care staff
From April 2022, health and social care workers will be required to be fully vaccinated against coronavirus, unless they are exempt.
The requirement will apply to workers who have direct face-to-face contact with people while providing care, including doctors, nurses, dentists, and domiciliary care workers.
Volunteers and support staff, such as receptionists who have social contact with patients, will also be required to be fully vaccinated.
The aim is to help protect the most vulnerable patients, as well as protection for workers to help prevent them from becoming ill and absent from work.
Most of Devon’s health care workers are already vaccinated. Published statistics show that in the south-west region over 95 per cent of all staff employed by NHS trusts have had at least one dose and almost 93 per cent are fully vaccinated. This is higher than the national average for England.
There’s still time to have your lifesaving COVID-19 vaccine
Figures produced by the Office for National Statistics show that between January and September this year, fully vaccinated people were 32 times less likely to die with COVID-19 than those who are unvaccinated.
It’s not too late to get have your first or second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
We know people are looking forward to spending time with their families and loved ones at Christmas and having the vaccine will not only protect you but those around you from COVID-19 and the potential long term effects.
Anybody who received their first dose before the end of October will be able to receive a second dose before the new year. After the second dose your chances of developing Long-COVID halve; according to a study by King’s College London. It also significantly reduces your chances of needing treatment in hospital and the severity of symptoms.
Some people may not have managed to have the COVID-19 vaccine yet or were initially unsure about whether to have it at all, but there’s still time to join millions of people who have had their first and second dose.
Everyone aged 12 years old and over can book an appointment for their first dose through the National Booking Service or can call 119.
A walk-in finder on the NHS website allows anyone who is eligible to enter their postcode and find their nearest centre to ‘grab-a-jab’ without an appointment at walk-in centres.
Farmers invited to a free wellbeing and mental health support webinar
The coronavirus pandemic and Brexit have added to the huge pressure on many of the region’s farmers.
Our Trading Standards service is holding the next in a series of free webinars to promote Mental Health and Wellbeing in the farming community on Thursday 18 November from 6.00pm to 8.00pm.
The aim of it is to help farmers understand where they can get support for their mental health and wellbeing if and when if they need it and will also talk about available financial support.
- Nina Parnell from charity Westbank
- Tim Dudgeon from Farmerados
- Annie Winn from the Addington Fund
- Katherine Williams from Exmoor Hill Farming Network
- Kim Wright from AccEPT Service
- The Samaritans talking about their ‘Real People/Real Stories’ campaign
There will also be an opportunity to ask the speakers and Trading Standards Officers questions during and after the meeting. The format of the meeting will allow you to do this anonymously if you prefer.
You can book your free place on the Eventbrite website.
If you’re unable to attend the webinar, please still register if you would like to receive a recording of the event to watch at your leisure. Alternatively the video will be posted on the Trading Standards website afterwards.
COVID-19 booster jab boom as system opens up for pre-bookings a month early
The National Booking Service has been changed to make it even easier for people to get their booster jab six-months after their second COVID-19 vaccine dose and ensure their vital protection is maintained over the winter months.
Everyone aged over 50 years old and all those most at risk from COVID-19 can now pre-book their booster jab appointment a month before they are eligible. This means that someone could pre-book their jab for the day they reach the 6-month milestone, rather than waiting days or weeks for a convenient appointment.
The colder weather traditionally leads to increased transmission of viruses and will be challenging for the NHS. Vaccines give high levels of protection but immunity reduces over time, particularly for older adults and at-risk groups, so it is vital that vulnerable people come forward to get their COVID-19 booster vaccine to top up their defences and protect themselves this winter.
People can also book via the National Booking Service or by calling 119 or get vaccinated at hundreds of walk-in sites across the country, six months after their second COVID-19 vaccine dose without an appointment.
Stop COVID-19 hanging around
During winter we all naturally spend more time indoors, welcoming family and friends into our homes as the weather gets colder. But with this comes an increase in the potential for breathing in infectious COVID-19 particles, particularly as around one in three people with the virus show no symptoms so could pass it onto each other without knowing, even to those who have been fully vaccinated.
With fewer restrictions in place this winter, following the success of the COVID-19 vaccination programme, making sure inside spaces are well ventilated is even more important for everyone to help keep infection rates down. It’s because in an enclosed space, infectious COVID-19 particles can linger and build up over time, like smoke. They remain suspended in the air, increasing the risk of other people in the room breathing them in, especially if there is no ventilation to refresh the air and blow the particles away.
But new research shows that nearly two-thirds of people aren’t aware that ventilation is an effective way to reduce the spread of coronavirus in the home. Just one in three people are ventilating their home when visitors come over, and only three per cent of people surveyed for the research continued to ventilate their homes for a period after their guests have left.
The government has worked with scientists from the universities of Cambridge and Leeds to produce a film to show how opening a window for just 10 minutes every hour when socialising with others can reduce COVID-19 levels indoors. You can watch it on the government Department for Health and Social Care’s YouTube channel.
Where can I get my vaccination?
One of the big differences with COVID-19 vaccinations now, compared to much earlier in the year, is where people can get them.
Where once they were only available through your GP or at your nearest mass vaccination centre, the options now are wider. In fact, there are more places delivering vaccines now than at any other point in the programme, including through pharmacies, GPs, schools and other community and pop-up sites, meaning almost every person lives within 10 miles of a vaccination clinic.
Alongside that, many people are being invited to come forward for their annual flu jab as well, and they’re available by appointment at pharmacies and health centres. Some health centres are coordinating COVID-19 booster vaccinations and flu jabs together, for eligible people to get them both done at the same time.
However you choose, and whether you walk-in or book an appointment, the important thing is to take up your vaccinations when they are offered to you.
And please look out for family members and friends who may not have transport, or require help in getting to their vaccination.
Study shows vaccine immunity is stronger than natural immunity
The ZOE COVID Study, last month, found that vaccines offer greater protection against COVID-19 than natural antibodies.
It found that an unvaccinated person with a previous COVID-19 infection has around 65 per cent protection against catching it again. But that two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine gave 71 per cent protection against infection, and two doses of the Pfizer vaccine gave 87 per cent protection.
This week, they’ve published further data. Between April and August 2021, they invited thousands of people who had logged a positive COVID-19 test to do an antibody test at home.
Of the 8,193 contributors who tested positive, 80.67 per cent had ‘anti-N’ antibodies. But that meant that one in five people didn’t have the antibodies, and could therefore be at greater risk of getting infected again.
Their conclusion is that while being infected with coronavirus can provide some level of antibody protection, it’s not guaranteed for everyone, and that the level of protection it gives is lower than the protection that the vaccines provide.
Yesterday we commemorated Armistice Day with a flag raising ceremony at County Hall in Exeter to honour the sacrifices made by our Armed Service personnel in conflicts around the world, past and present.
The ceremony broadcast live on Facebook so that others could attend remotely. If you missed the event, you can watch it on our Facebook page.
Earlier in the day, our Chairman, Councillor Jeff Trail BEM, presented a wreath on behalf of Devon County Council to be displayed at The Cenotaph at Whitehall, but because of the coronavirus pandemic didn’t attend in person. Instead it was delivered to London courtesy of GWR.
Post expires at 3:57pm on Monday November 15th, 2021