Christmas might be a little different again this year because COVID-19 is still with us, but if we all continue to make the right choices and follow the restrictions in place to help keep ourselves, our loved ones and our communities safe, there’s hope for brighter times ahead in 2022. 🎄
With best wishes for a safe and happy Christmas,
from everyone at Devon County Council
While case rates in Devon have been stable over recent days, they still remain high. We expect the number of positive cases to rise, as they are doing everywhere, because of how infectious the Omicron variant is. Positive cases are currently highest amongst those aged between 20 and 39.
In this update:
❇️ Thank you, and let’s stay vigilant
❇️ There are plenty of appointment slots available to receive your booster
❇️ £1 billion in support for businesses most impacted by Omicron
❇️ Self-isolation period reduced to seven days, with testing
❇️ Help everyone this Christmas by testing
Thank you, and let’s stay vigilant
Thank you for taking time to keep updated about coronavirus, and I hope that you have found our bulletins during the pandemic helpful and informative.
We leave you for Christmas, to resume with the latest updates in the New Year, with a final message to urge everyone to get their vaccinations.
It’s not too late if you are eligible to get your first, second, third (if required) or booster vaccinations. And it is the single, most important thing that you can do to protect yourselves and your loved ones from potentially becoming seriously unwell should you catch coronavirus.
NHS Devon is reporting plenty of vaccination appointment slots being available across the county, at a range of locations, including vaccination centres, GP surgeries and pharmacies, as well as at pop-up clinics. You can find your nearest walk-in centre online.
Please enjoy your Christmas, but remain vigilant and do everything you can to reduce risk to yourselves and others. Follow the latest guidance, and look out for each other.
Steve Brown, Director of Public Health Devon
12 to 15 year olds eligible for second COVID-19 vaccination
From Monday 20 December, 12 to 15 year olds are eligible to book their second dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Two doses are now being offered to this age group to give them the best protection against COVID-19.
Most children can get a second dose from 12 weeks after they had their first dose. However, if your child has tested positive for COVID-19 and isn’t high risk, they need to wait 12 weeks before they can have the vaccine. This starts from the date of their positive PCR test.
Unpaid carers will receive priority at vaccination centres
Unpaid carers – people who provide care for a relative or friend – are being given the same priority as social care staff in queues to receive their booster jabs for coronavirus.
It’s to recognise their caring role, and how for many carers, time away from the person they care for is limited.
If you provide care to someone else, there’s a letter from the Department for Health and Social Care that will give you priority at vaccination centres. The letter simply informs vaccination centre staff that the bearer of it should be allowed priority if there are queues.
Print off the letter and take it with you to show a marshal at your vaccination centre. You’ll then be fast-tracked through any queue, so that you’re not held up waiting.
The letter is available from Devon Carers. You can contact Devon Carers on 03456 434 435 or by live chat on their website. Please note Devon Carers’ opening times over the Christmas and New Year holiday.
There are plenty of appointment slots available to receive your booster
In the past week alone, teams across Devon have delivered more than 100,000 vaccines, which is in part thanks to the many practice staff and volunteers who stepped up at such short notice to set up new clinics, promote sessions, and give vaccines.
There are lots of appointments available at our vaccine sites. Please make time to book your booster now so you can start 2022 with a New Year’s resolution rather than with COVID-19.
If you have not yet received or booked your COVID-19 vaccinations, you can do so through the National Booking Service– or by ringing 119.
You can also attend one of the many walks-in vaccination sites across the county or attend a pop-up clinic – which are advertised each week by the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and local authorities and via targeted social media.
Self-isolation period reduced to seven days, with testing
Analysis by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), suggests that a seven day isolation period, alongside two negative lateral flow test results, has nearly the same protective effect as a 10 day isolation period without lateral flow testing for people with COVID-19.
So from this week, people who have been vaccinated, but who have caught coronavirus, can self-isolate for seven days instead of 10, so long as they test negative with two lateral flow tests on days six and seven.
The first test must be taken no earlier than day six of the self-isolation period.
If they test negative with both tests, they can leave self-isolation on or after day seven, but they are strongly advised to limit close contact with other people in crowded or poorly ventilated spaces. They are also advised to work from home and minimise contact with anyone who is at higher risk of severe illness if they catch coronavirus.
There is no change to the guidance for unvaccinated contacts of positive coronavirus cases – they are still required to self-isolate for 10 full days.
Existing public health measures remain in place including:
✅ staying at home if you feel unwell
✅ get a test if you experience any COVID-19 symptoms
✅ wear a face covering in crowded, enclosed spaces
✅ work from home if possible
✅ maintain social distancing and regular hand washing
✅ take up the offer of the free COVID-19 vaccine
Which test do I need?
We know it can be hard to keep track of which COVID-19 tests you should take: when you should take them; how often; which one – PCR or Lateral Flow Device; and what you’re meant to do afterward.
You just answer a few simple questions about your current situation, and it takes you through the guidance. Rest assured, no personal information is required, so there’s nothing to identify you.
£1 billion in support for businesses most impacted by Omicron
Businesses in the hospitality and leisure sectors in England will be eligible for one-off grants of up to £6,000 per premises, the government announced this week.
They will also cover the cost of Statutory Sick Pay for COVID-19-related absences for small and medium-sized employers across the UK.
It’s in recognition that the rise in the Omicron variant means some businesses are likely to struggle over coming weeks.
Businesses will also be able to apply for grants, that will be administered by local councils and be available in coming weeks.
The grants will be equivalent to the monthly cash grants provided to hospitality businesses when they were fully closed earlier this year.
Help everyone this Christmas by testing
Taking regular lateral flow tests is one of the most effective ways to stop COVID-19 spreading and is especially important with the Omicron variant in circulation.
Please ask your children to keep testing over the holidays, especially if they’re meeting friends or family, to help keep everyone safer this Christmas. Remember that they will also need to test ahead of returning to school in January.
All you want to know about current COVID-19 measures
With just a few days before Christmas, and the question on lots of people’s minds about whether additional measures will be introduced at some point over the next few weeks to curb the spread of the Omicron variant of the virus.
We thought a good place for you to stay in touch with the latest information is via the government’s Coronavirus webpage. Here you’ll find all the current restrictions and any updates as they’re announced.