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Great Torrington Town Council

Fresh appeal to the ‘not yet boosted’ as cases of COVID-19 in Devon reach their highest level since the pandemic began

6,100 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Devon from 9 to 15 January 2022

COVID-19 case rates across Devon continue to be high. Rates have been falling over the past few weeks however there are early indications that this reduction is slowing. It is anticipated following the return to school that we will start to see increases in cases, particularly in school aged children.

Currently the highest COVID-19 case rates across Devon are within the school age population, particularly in North Devon and Exeter.


In this update:

  • Fresh appeal to the ‘not yet boosted’  
  • England to return to Plan A
  • Director of Public Health Devon advises caution in response to PM’s statement
  • Pregnant women urged to have their vaccine as cases rise
  • Local charity receives Queen’s Award for their support during lockdown 
Get boosted!

Fresh appeal to the ‘not yet boosted’  

Overall take-up of COVID-19 booster vaccinations in Devon so far is good, but we can do better. 

More than 80 per cent of eligible people aged 50 years old and over have had the jab, but people younger than that have been a bit slower to get it done. And the younger we go, the take-up of the booster vaccination gets lower. 

For some people there’s likely to be a good reason for not having had their booster jab yet, such as a recent COVID-19 infection or because 12 weeks haven’t yet passed since their second vaccine dose. 

But for others, especially those aged between 25 and 50 years old, who by now should have had sufficient time to be ready for their booster, but haven’t yet come forward – this appeal is for you.

Experts say the booster jab makes a big difference to our immune system. It’s not a ‘nice to have’, after the first and second doses. It’s as important, if not more so for the additional protection it gives us against getting seriously ill. 

So please come forward, if you’re eligible for the booster and haven’t yet had it.   

There are plenty of opportunities to get it now, with or without an appointment, at walk-in sites and vaccination centres across Devon.

And for those young enough, or old enough to remember the classic arcade games first time round, here’s a little video to make you smile, and encourage you to get your booster as soon as possible.

Revert back to plan A

England to return to Plan A

The government has announced that England’s COVID-19 measures will revert from Plan B to Plan A.

This means:

  • the government is no longer asking people to work from home if they can. People should now talk to their employers to agree arrangements to return to the office
  • face coverings are no longer required for staff and pupils in secondary schools and college classrooms
  • from 27 January, face coverings will no longer be required for staff and pupils in communal areas of secondary schools, nor for staff in communal areas of primary schools
  • from 27 January, there is no longer a legal requirement to wear a face covering in public indoor places. The government suggests that you continue to wear a face covering in crowded and enclosed spaces where you may come into contact with other people you do not normally meet
  • from 27 January, venues and events will no longer be required by law to check visitors’ NHS COVID Pass. The NHS COVID Pass can still be used on a voluntary basis

Visit the government website to find out more about the changes, and what you can do to stay safe and help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Case rates are still high and it is important that people understand this announcement is not one of ‘freedom day’, but a reverting  back to plan A

Director of Public Health Devon advises caution in response to PM’s statement

The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has outlined his intention for the country to return to ‘Plan A’.

Responding to the statement, Steve Brown, Devon’s Director of Public Health, said:

“Case rates are still high and it is important that people understand that this announcement is not one of ‘freedom day’, but a reverting back to plan A.

“Omicron is by no means a mild virus, and the symptoms to those who are unvaccinated or who have underlying health concerns can be extremely serious if not life threatening.

“So while the Prime Minister is indicating light towards the end of the tunnel, my advice is that we are not yet out of the woods.

“We must stay vigilant and alert to risk that is still around us.

“Please be cautious, let’s use our common sense, and continue to follow good basic public health advice.”

Please visit the news page of our website to read Steve Brown’s statement in full.

It's important to keep mentally well this winter

If you are concerned about change and feeling uncertain 

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a roller coaster, and continues to impact all of our lives. 

Even the latest changes announced this week will, no doubt, cause concern for some and be met with joy for others. 

We’re all different, and we all see things from our own perspectives. 

But if you’re concerned about change and are feeling uncertain right now, there is some information online that might help you. 

The NHS Every Mind Matters pages help describe ways to manage uncertainty, and help us reduce stress and cope better

It has 10 things that you can do to help deal with change and look after your mental wellbeing in the face of uncertainty, as well as places you can go to get further free advice and support. 

The COVID-19 vaccine is the best way to protect you and your baby

Pregnant women urged to have their vaccine as cases rise

Leading health experts are renewing their calls for pregnant women to have their COVID-19 vaccine, as cases of coronavirus in Devon reach their highest level since the pandemic began.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) recently announced that pregnant women should be considered a clinical risk group.

And now, a Plymouth teacher who was hospitalised while pregnant with flu, shortly after catching COVID-19, is appealing to pregnant women to have both the flu and COVID-19 vaccinations. Christine believes that having the jabs helped to prevent her from becoming more seriously ill. She said: 

“It was really horrible. I became severely dehydrated. My baby wasn’t getting the reserves it needed and the midwives became very concerned. It was all a bit scary, especially when there were no foetal movements for 24 hours and my temperature wasn’t coming down. Thankfully I’ve recovered and my baby is okay, but I certainly never want to experience that again.

“My advice to anyone would be to get every vaccine you can. Especially if you’re pregnant, it makes sense to take anything and everything you are offered to protect both you and your baby. They wouldn’t be offered if they weren’t safe for both of you.”

You can find out more about pregnancy, breastfeeding and fertility in relation to the COVID-19 vaccine on the NHS website.

16 and 17 year olds can book their booster jab online

More teens encouraged to get boosted

Young people aged 16 and 17 years old can now book a COVID-19 booster vaccination appointment online.

Top-up doses of the vaccine are available at least three months after you had your second dose.

Invites have been sent encouraging teens in this age group to book their appointment through the online booking service, calling 119, or by finding their nearest walk-in site to get vaccinated without needing an appointment, as soon as they can.

Clinically at-risk 12 to 15 year-olds or those who live with someone who is immunosuppressed can now also have their booster jab three months after their two primary doses, with those who are severely immunosuppressed able to get their booster after a third primary dose. Those eligible in this age group can go to a walk-in vaccination site or wait to be contacted by a local NHS service such as a GP surgery and book an appointment with them.

A booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine tops up the protection you have from your primary doses of the vaccine, making it effective longer-term and helping prevent you getting seriously ill if you catch the virus. 

Westbank Queen's Award

Local charity receives Queen’s Award for their support during lockdown 

The charity, Westbank, who we work with to deliver a number of community services, has been presented with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Services. 

The Queen’s representative in Devon, the Lord-Lieutenant for Devon, David Fursdon, presented it to them recently. 

It’s for the amazing work Westbank’s Neighbourhood Friends did during the coronavirus lockdown period. 

The Neighbourhood Friends help vulnerable or frail adults, from Exeter, East and Mid Devon, to stay out of hospital or to have shorter hospital stays. They match volunteers up with people who need help, for example, moving furniture so that there’s room for hospital beds or other equipment in their home; installing key safes so that care workers can gain access; and providing company and a warm drink to people following a stay in hospital. 

Over the lockdown period, they helped around 2,030 people.   

Jenny Luscombe, the charity’s longest serving volunteer said: 

“It was such a pleasure to meet the Lord Lieutenant of Devon and an honour to have received The Queen’s Award, which is the equivalent of receiving an MBE for people like myself who give their time to volunteer.” 

Read more at devon.gov.uk/news

The Aviva Community Fund – open for applications until 1st February 2022.

We’re pleased to announce The Aviva Community Fund is open for applications until 1st February 2022.

This year, we’re looking for projects taking climate action or promoting financial wellbeing – to help build a brighter, more sustainable future for our communities.

We open the door to charities and causes all over the UK to share their vision on how to make our world a better place for us all. Our eyes are currently fixed on these two areas:

Climate action
Promoting healthy, thriving communities by preventing, preparing for and protecting against the impacts of climate change.

Financial wellbeing
Helping people take control of their wellbeing by giving them the tools to be more financially independent and ready for anything.

Apply now! Does your project have what it takes to be part of the Aviva Community Fund?

Click here to read eligibility criteria

Click here to apply

Post expires at 7:00am on Wednesday February 2nd, 2022

Director of Public Health Devon advises caution in response to PM’s statement

Revert back to plan A

Director of Public Health Devon advises caution in response to PM’s statement

The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has outlined his intention for the country to return to ‘Plan A’, in moves to keep coronavirus rates as low as possible.   

In a statement to the House of Commons, he said:

“Today’s latest ONS data shows clearly that infection levels are falling in England. And while there are some places where cases are likely to continue rising, including in primary schools, our scientists believe it is likely that the Omicron wave has now peaked nationally.”

Hospital admissions nationally, he said, have now stabilised and the numbers in intensive care are falling. Mr Johnson said that:

  • From the next Thursday (27 January) mandatory certification will end, meaning people will no longer have to prove their Coronavirus status to gain entry to some venues
  • The government will no longer ask people to work from home, but that people should talk to their employers about arrangements for returning to the office
  • That it will no longer be compulsory to wear face coverings, starting this week in classrooms
  • There will be easing of restrictions governing visits to care homes

But while the current rules around self-isolation remain in place, Mr Johnson said:

“There will soon come a time when we can remove the legal requirement to self-isolate altogether – just as we don’t place legal obligations on people to isolate if they have flu.”

He added that he does not expect to renew the current self-isolation regulations, when they expire on Thursday 24 March.

Steve Brown, Director of Public Health Devon

Responding to the statement, Steve Brown, Devon’s Director of Public Health, said:

“While we have seen a reduction in the overall number of people reporting a positive test in the past week, numbers are now stabilising, and we are seeing increased rates in younger children.

“Case rates are still high and it is important that people understand that this announcement is not one of ‘freedom day’, but a reverting back to plan A.

“Devon’s uptake of the vaccination is good, with more than 85 per cent of eligible people overall now having had their booster.

“However, take-up of the booster is lower in some younger age groups, and it’s imperative that they and everyone who is eligible for their booster jab, comes forward as soon as they can.

“Omicron is by no means a mild virus, and the symptoms to those who are unvaccinated or who have underlying health concerns can be extremely serious if not life threatening.

“So while the Prime Minister is indicating light towards the end of the tunnel, my advice is that we are not yet out of the woods.

“We must stay vigilant and alert to risk that is still around us.

“Being fully vaccinated, and boosted, gives us best protection from this virus.  It’s not too late to start vaccinations, and there are now plenty of opportunities in Devon to get your booster jabs at walk-in and vaccination centres.

“Wearing face coverings is still an effective and sensible precaution to continue in indoor and crowded spaces, especially with people you don’t know.

“Regular lateral flow device testing for people with no symptoms is still the best way to identify those carrying the virus.  As is taking a PCR test by people showing symptoms.

“Keeping indoor spaces ventilated is a sensible precaution to reduce risk.

“And staying at home and avoiding others if you have symptoms of the virus or test positive for it, is still the most responsible way to avoid spreading it to others.

“Please be cautious, let’s use our common sense, and continue to follow good basic public health advice.”

Read more at devon.gov.uk/news

Devon’s COVID-19 cases stabilising, but still very high

In this update:

  • Devon’s COVID-19 cases stabilising, but still very high
  • Option to leave self-isolation after five full days 
  • April deadline for frontline health and CQC-regulated social care workers to be fully vaccinated
  • Hospitality, leisure and accommodation businesses can apply for a grant
  • National Booking Service open to 12-15 year olds for second COVID-19 vaccine dose 
9,177 cases of COVID-19 in Devon from 1 - 8 January

Devon’s COVID-19 cases stabilising, but still very high

The increase in COVID-19 cases in Devon has slowed and stabilised in recent days, but numbers still remain very high. 

Over 9,000 new COVID-19 cases were reported in Devon in the latest available week, with the weekly rate here (1,132 per 100,000) remaining below the national average (1,695 per 100,000). 

Case rates across the county are highest in those aged 20 to 39 years old (2,071 per 100,000). 

“We are monitoring the data extremely closely,” said Steve Brown, Devon’s Director of Public Health. “Our COVID-19 case numbers are still very high, and with young people now returned to schools and colleges again, and more socialisation among those age groups, we expect case levels to change again. 

“We know that the Omicron variant is highly infectious, and we are now seeing an increase in hospitalisations in Devon. Thankfully, it’s not leading, to the same extent, to deaths or stays in Intensive Care Units.” 

Meanwhile more than 85 per cent of those eligible for their COVID-19 booster vaccinations have now had their jabs. Figures show that around three months after those aged 65 and over receive the third jab, protection against hospitalisation remains at about 90 per cent. 

new self isolation guidance

Option to leave self-isolation after five full days 

The default COVID-19 self-isolation period continues to be 10 days, but the government announced this week that from Monday 17 January, people will have the option to reduce their isolation period after five full days, if they test negative on both day 5 and day 6, and do not have a temperature. 

But it’s crucial that people isolating wait until they have received the two negative lateral flow device (LFD) tests on two consecutive days – the first test no earlier than day 5, and the second must be taken the following day.  

And it’s essential that the two tests are reported before people return to their job or education, if leaving self-isolation earlier than the full 10 days. 

However, there are still risks. If you leave isolation on day 6, after 5 full days of isolation, between 20 to 30 per cent of people are still infectious. 

So anyone leaving self-isolation earlier than 10 days is strongly advised to wear face coverings and limit close contact with other people in crowded or poorly ventilated spaces, and work from home if they can. 

There are exceptions though. Self-isolation may continue in certain circumstances, such as for those who work with vulnerable people. The government will publish a full list in their guidance in due course, they report.

from 11 Jan 2022 if you have a positive lateral flow test you don't need to take a follow up PCR

Confirmatory PCR tests suspended

On Tuesday this week, we sent you a special edition of this newsletter to mark the change in government guidance around COVID-19 testing, to help everyone understand what they need to do and when.

If you missed it you can read a copy online here.

People in England, who receive a positive lateral flow device (LFD) test result for coronavirus are required to self-isolate immediately, without having to take a confirmatory PCR test.

It’s a temporary measure while cases of coronavirus are so high across the UK. There are exceptions though, and you can read more about them in the email we sent you on Tuesday.

protect the people you care for - get your COVID-19 vaccine

April deadline for frontline health and CQC-regulated social care workers to be fully vaccinated 

All patient-facing health and Care Quality Commission (CQC) – regulated social care workers will be required to be fully vaccinated from April 2022. 

For everyone to be fully vaccinated (first two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine) by this date, unvaccinated people will need to have had their first dose by Thursday 3 February.

Vaccinations can be booked through the National Booking Service, or by ringing 119, or by attending one of the many walk-ins available across the county.

There are some exemptions, including people under 18 years old; people who are clinically exempt; people taking part in a COVID-19 trial and people who don’t have face-to-face contact with the public. 

The government’s decision brings front line CQC-regulated social care workers, such as domiciliary care workers, in line with care home staff. It was made a requirement for care home staff to be fully vaccinated last year. 

Amanda Pritchard, NHS Chief Executive, said: 

“The NHS has always been clear that staff should get the life-saving COVID-19 vaccination to protect themselves, their loved ones and their patients and the overwhelming majority have already done so. 

“Working with NHS organisations, we will continue to support staff who have not yet received the vaccination to take up the evergreen offer. 

Chief Nurse for Adult Social Care, Deborah Sturdy, said: 

“I encourage anyone working in social care who has not yet had their vaccine to come forward as soon as possible to protect yourselves, your colleagues and those you care for.” 

cafe

Hospitality, leisure and accommodation businesses can apply for a grant 

Cash grants of up to £6,000 are now available to businesses impacted by the COVID-19 Omicron variant. 

Hospitality, leisure and accommodation businesses are able to apply for the one-off grant. Eligible businesses include, but are not limited to, pubs, restaurants (excluding takeaways), cafés, tourist attractions, event venues, museums, theatres, holiday parks, hotels, and campsites. 

The level of payment of the Omicron Hospitality and Leisure Grant is based on the rateable value for each eligible business premises: 

  • Businesses with a rateable value of £15,000 or below can apply for a grant of £2,667; 
  • Businesses with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000 can apply for £4,000; 
  • Businesses with a rateable value of £51,000 or above can apply for £6,000. 

The grant funding forms part of a £1 billion support package from the government, and will be administered by your local district council.

If you are an eligible hospitality, leisure or accommodation business owner that has previously received a COVID-19 support grant, you are likely to have already been contacted directly with details about how to apply.  

For more information, please visit your district council’s website or the Heart of the South West Growth Hub website.

12-15 year olds can now have their COVID-19 vaccine

National Booking Service open to 12-15 year olds for second COVID-19 vaccine dose  

The National Booking Service is now open for 12-15 year-olds to make appointments to have their second COVID-19 jab.  

All eligible 12-15 year olds are now able to book their second jab online if they had their first dose more than 12 weeks ago, in line with updated JCVI guidance

Nationally more than 1.3 million young people have taken up the offer of a vaccine so far and more than 5,000 schools have been visited. Over 75,000 school children are currently eligible for a second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Young people and their families are being urged to book in online for either their first dose, if they haven’t done so already, and their second dose as soon as they become eligible. 

Young people are also able to get their vaccine through existing school immunisation services. 

flu vaccine

Record level of flu jab uptake in those aged 65 years old and over 

More people aged 65 years old and over have received their flu vaccine this year than ever before according to the UK Health Security Agency.

However uptake in pregnant women, those with underlying health conditions, and pre-schoolers remains behind older adults. 

Of people aged 65 years old and over, 81.4 per cent have already come forward for their flu vaccination this season. This is the highest uptake in this age group on record, above the end of season uptake of 80.9 per cent last year. 

However, uptake in pregnant women and those with underlying health conditions remains low in comparison to older adults (37.1 per cent for pregnant women and 49.2 per cent for those under 65 with underlying health conditions), and preschool vaccination rates are less than last year’s record uptake during the same period (49.0 per cent of 3-year olds and 46.6 per cent in all 2-year olds). Uptake recorded in healthcare workers is also lower than at this point in previous years. 

poorly toddler

Charity warns of winter respiratory bug for babies and young children 

The British Lung Foundation is urging parents to be on their guard against the winter virus, RSV, which usually peaks in January, and could coincide with large numbers of COVID-19 infections. 

This week, the charity reported a 400 per cent rise in calls from parents to its helpline, with many asking for advice about RSV. 

RSV is common in babies and children under two years old. It can cause breathing issues, but most babies and children will only have mild symptoms that can be looked after safely at home. But around three in every 100 have symptoms that require hospital treatment. 

The charity says that there were very few cases of RSV last winter when lockdowns were in place, which means that young children have much lower immunity this year. 

Their advice for parents includes asking anyone who has a cough or cold to stay away from young children; making sure that anyone who handles their child washes their hands regularly; and not smoking around young children and babies, especially if they are unwell. 

Read more at devon.gov.uk/news

Great Torrington Craft, Food and Drink Fair – Saturday 5th March 2022

We are excited to announce that as a “Welcome Back Fund” initiative we will be working with South West Events Management who will facilitate a fabulous event on Saturday 5th March 2022!

Torrington Town Hall and the Pannier Market will jointly host the Craft, Food and Drink Fair which will run from 10.00am-4.00pm.

This event will see Torrington Town Hall and Pannier Market Hall filled with local traders’ food, drink and crafts offerings from around Great Torrington and surrounds. There will be a vast array of goods – everything from cheese to knitwear and jewellery to plants. There will have spaces for over 50 traders at the event.

There will be a bar open, serving local drinks and mulled wine. Local shops and traders at the market will be invited to offer special discounts or treats to the shoppers for the event. Shops will be asked to take part and display a clue/treasure in their shop/window, encouraging shoppers to visit all shops taking part to complete their clue sheets, with prizes for the families who collect the most clues.

If anybody would like to book a space or find out more about the event please contact Lucy – lucyloweevents@outlook.com or 07518066723.

All in all, a great day with something for everyone.  Pop the date in your diary and come along and buy some local goodies!

From today, people without COVID-19 symptoms no longer need a PCR test to confirm a positive lateral flow in England.

Testing for COVID-19

There are different tests you can get to check if you have coronavirus (COVID-19).

  • PCR tests – mainly for people with symptoms, they’re sent to a lab to be checked
  • rapid lateral flow device (LFD) tests – only for people who do not have symptoms, they give a quick result

The government has made some changes to the COVID-19 testing requirements in England recently, so we have created this special edition of our newsletter to help everyone understand what they need to do and when.

from 11 Jan 2022 if you have a positive lateral flow test you don't need to take a follow up PCR

Confirmatory PCR tests suspended from today 

From today, people in England without COVID-19 symptoms who receive a positive lateral flow device (LFD) test result are required to self-isolate immediately, without having to take a confirmatory PCR test

It’s a temporary measure while cases of coronavirus are so high across the UK. While case levels are high, the vast majority of people with positive lateral flow device results can be confident that they have coronavirus. 

Rapid LFD tests are for regular use by people who do not show any of the three main symptoms of having coronavirus – the high temperature, new and continuous coughing, or change to their usual sense of taste or smell.  They’re to identify positive cases among people who would otherwise not know they’ve got it. 

If you have any of those symptoms, you’re to self-isolate immediately and arrange a PCR test, online.   

From today, anyone testing positive with a LFD should report their result on GOV.UK, and must self-isolate immediately. 


But there are some exceptions 

If you have a positive LFD test result, you should still also have a follow-up PCR test if: 

  • you also have COVID-19 symptoms
  • you wish to claim the Test and Trace Support Payment – to claim the Test and Trace Support Payment, you must have tested positive for COVID-19 following a PCR test or an assisted LFD test 
  • you have received an email or letter from the NHS because of a health condition that means you may be suitable for new COVID-19 treatments – if this applies to you and you develop any COVID-19 symptoms, you should use the PCR test kit that was sent to you in the post for this purpose; if you have not received a PCR test kit you can arrange to have a PCR test 
  • you are taking LFD tests as part of research or surveillance programmes, and the programme asks you to take a follow-up PCR test 
positive COVID-19 test

If you have a positive test result 

You should stay at home and self-isolate if you have any of the main symptoms of coronavirus or if you have a positive LFD or PCR test result.

Self-isolation will help protect your family, friends and the wider community by reducing the risk that you will pass the infection on to others. 

Your self-isolation period starts immediately from when your symptoms started, or, if you do not have symptoms, from when your positive LFD or PCR test was taken, whichever test was taken first. 

The self-isolation period lasts for 10 days, after which you can return to your normal routine if your symptoms have gone, or if you’re just left with a cough or loss of sense of taste or smell (these symptoms can last a few weeks).  

If you’ve still got a high temperature, or still feel unwell after 10 days, stay at home and seek medical advice. 


Ending your self-isolation period earlier than 10 days 

You can end your self-isolation period before the end of the 10 full days, if you take an LFD test from six days after the day your symptoms started, and another LFD test on the following day.   

The second LFD test should be taken at least 24 hours later.   

If both test results are negative, and you do not have a high temperature, you may end your self-isolation after the second negative LFD test result. 

report your COVID-19 test result

Don’t forget to report your COVID-19 test result

When you take a rapid lateral flow device (LFD) COVID-19 test, always remember to report the result via the government website.

Whether it is positive, negative or void, reporting results is a great way to help the NHS reduce the spread of the virus.

Reporting results helps to:

  • reduce infection rates in your community
  • protect people at higher risk of infection
  • prevent and reduce the spread of the virus
  • find out if you’re infectious (you may not have symptoms)

Report the result every time you use a LFD test, as soon as possible after you get the result.

If you are taking daily LFD tests because you are a contact of someone who has COVID-19, you should report your result every day.

You cannot report a result after more than 24 hours and you can only report one result at a time.

COVID-19 testing in Devon

How to access COVID-19 tests in Devon

If you have symptoms of COVID-19 get a PCR test as soon as possible, even if the symptoms are mild. 

You can order a PCR test kit to be sent to your home or book an appointment at a local walk-in or drive-through test site via the government website.

Rapid lateral flow device (LFD) tests are only for people who do not have symptoms of COVID-19. Even if you’re vaccinated, you could still catch the virus or pass it on. Doing rapid tests regularly helps to protect yourself and others.

You can order free packs of LFD tests to be sent to your home via the government website.

Picking up rapid LFD tests from a local pharmacy or collection point is the quickest way to get them for most people.

Our pop-up community testing vans also provide on-site LFD tests, without the need for appointments, at locations across the county. However, difficulties with the supply of LFD tests mean that they don’t have any home test kits to hand out at the moment. Details of our mobile community testing van timetable are available on our website.

Which COVID-19 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, and what you’re meant to do afterward.

So we’ve put together a tool to try to help.

Start by answering a simple question about your current situation and then follow the guidance provided. In some scenarios, there are further options for you to select from which will help you to understand what you should do in the most common situations.

The NHS website provides more guidance about COVID-19 testing and you can also use it to find out how to book your COVID-19 vaccine.

Read more at devon.gov.uk/news

Help reduce risk for the sake of others as COVID-19 cases rise in Devon

8002 cases of COVID-19 in Devon from 26 Dec 2021 to 1 Jan 2022

The number of cases of coronavirus in Devon is currently lower than the national average, but rising rapidly in all age groups and we expect to see rates increase considerably in the coming weeks. 


In this update:

  • A new year message of hope from Devon’s Director of Public Health
  • Help reduce risk for the sake of others
  • Confirmatory PCR tests temporarily suspended
  • Plenty of capacity at Devon COVID-19 vaccination sites
  • Returning to school safely
Happy new year 2022

New Year message of hope as COVID-19 cases rise in Devon

Steve Brown, Director of Public Health Devon, wishes everyone a very Happy New Year, with hopes for a brighter and safer year ahead of us. He said:

“Cases of COVID-19 in Devon are among the lowest in England, but are rising and much higher than previous points in the pandemic, with the highly infectious Omicron variant now dominant in all areas.  

“Devon has lagged behind the national trend by a few weeks with coronavirus, which allows us more time to get booster jabs and be better protected. Cases of Omicron have so far been less severe for most people, compared to earlier variants, and our uptake of the vaccinations is high, which is all good news. 

“However cases here in Devon are rising in all age groups and with the return to schools this week, we expect to see rates increase considerably in the coming weeks. 

“At the same time, there are huge pressures within local health and social care services, including hospitals and ambulances. NHS Devon report that the number of people in hospital with COVID-19 and the number of hospital staff absent due to the virus have both risen by one third in the last fortnight, and the pressure on those critical services is expected to get worse over coming weeks. 

“My New Year’s message is simple. We are not out of the woods with coronavirus, and we have an immediate hill to climb over the next few weeks to get us over this current Omicron surge. We know what to do. Please follow the guidance, and do everything you can to minimise risk to yourselves and others.”

  • Take up the vaccine as soon as you’re eligible – it’s not too late to have your first, second or booster jab 
  • Test regularly with lateral flow device tests if you have no symptoms, and take a PCR test if you do have symptoms 
  • Self-isolate if you have symptoms, and if you test positive 
  • Wear face coverings when indoors in crowded spaces, including on public transport and in shops
  • Keep indoor spaces well ventilated 
  • Wash your hands properly and regularly 
wear a face covering

Director of Public Health Devon urges people to help reduce risk for the sake of others 

Steve Brown, Devon’s Director of Public Health, was asked this week, with coronavirus cases in Devon already high and predicted to get considerably higher this month due to the Omicron variant, what more should people in the county do?

“This latest surge demonstrates that coronavirus is still very much with us, and still a serious health risk to many people,” he said. 

“The Omicron variant, while extremely infectious, may not be leading to the same extent to high levels of illness or death, but the health risk to people who may be immuno-supressed or who have other underlying health conditions is still extremely serious. 

“Add to that the risk to health, or at best disruption to day jobs while self-isolating, for the thousands of front line staff in health, social care and other essential workers, and such high levels of coronavirus are likely to have a dramatic impact on the delivery of the services we rely heavily upon.  

“We know what helps reduce risk – it’s taking up the vaccine when invited, including the booster; wearing face coverings where appropriate and self-isolating when we need to.   

“So I’m asking people to follow the guidance, if not for yourself, but for others – for those people who are more likely to get seriously ill from having coronavirus; and people whose professions we rely on to keep essential services running.” 

fish factory

Critical workers to take daily lateral flow device tests to keep services running 

From Monday 10 January, free COVID-19 lateral flow tests will be given to 100,000 critical workers in England, to help keep essential services and supply chains running.

Critical workers will be asked to take a test on every working day, for an initial five weeks. 

Lateral flow tests are for people who show none of the three main symptoms of coronavirus, so daily testing by critical workers is to help identify people who are carrying the virus and could spread it unknowingly and limit the risk of outbreaks within those workplaces. 

‘Critical workers’ in this case include people who work in critical national infrastructure, national security, transport, and food distribution and processing. It includes roles in Border Force, police, fire and rescue services control rooms, electricity generation, test kit warehouses and test surge labs. 

Not included in this scheme are workers within adult social care or education, who already have a testing allocation with the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA). 

The government is contacting organisations included in the scheme directly this week ahead of roll out starting on Monday. 

no home-test kits available from community testing vans

No home-test kits available from our community testing vans

Difficulties with the supply of lateral flow tests to our community testing vans means that we now have to prioritise the stock we have towards health, care and other key public sector services.

Our pop-up test units will continue to provide on-site lateral flow device tests, without the need for appointments, at locations across the county.

However, for the time being, we will unfortunately no longer be able to hand out home test kits from our vans to members of the public.

If you represent a voluntary or community organisation that is providing essential support to local people and rely on our pop-up service to access lateral flow tests, please speak to a member of staff at one of our pop-up sites who will seek to help you.

For more information about COVID-19 testing in Devon, please visit our website.

from 11 Jan 2022 if you have a positive lateral flow test you don't need to take a follow up PCR

Confirmatory PCR tests temporarily suspended 

From Tuesday 11 January, people in England who test positive for coronavirus with a lateral flow device test will be required to self-isolate immediately, but won’t need to take a confirmatory PCR test. 

The temporary change comes because COVID-19 rates currently remain high across the UK, so when people are now testing positive with a lateral flow, there’s a strong degree of confidence that they’ve got COVID-19. 

But lateral flow tests should still only be used by people who show no COVID-19 symptoms. Anyone with a new and continuous cough, high temperature, or change to their usual sense of taste or smell, should stay at home, self-isolate and take a PCR test. And if that’s positive, they continue self-isolating for the duration. 

Under the new guidance, anyone testing positive with a lateral flow device should report their result on GOV.UK, and must self-isolate immediately. They don’t need to take the confirmatory PCR test. 

There are some exceptions to this new approach. You can find out more on the government’s website.

Lateral flow tests

Are lateral flow tests accurate?

Yes! Rapid lateral flow tests are most useful at identifying coronavirus in people without symptoms, and are over 80 per cent effective at finding people with high viral loads who are most infectious. 

NHS Test and Trace have found that for every 10,000 lateral flow tests carried out, there are likely to be fewer than three false positive results. 

Right now, with the high prevalence of infection, it’s highly likely that a positive lateral flow test will be a true positive, therefore a confirmatory PCR test isn’t necessary. 

For more information about COVID-19 testing in Devon, please visit our website.

get boosted now!

Plenty of capacity at Devon COVID-19 vaccination sites – get boosted now!

Over 80 per cent of eligible people in the south-west have now had their COVID-19 booster jab, which is excellent. It means that we are much better placed as the Omicron variant drives up COVID-19 cases. Earlier this week the Prime Minister said that 90 per cent of patients in Intensive Care Units (ICUs) across the country are unvaccinated and 60 per cent have not had their booster jab.

January is always a busy time for the health and care system and this year is definitely no exception, and in Devon we anticipate a very busy few weeks ahead.

While cases locally are lower than many other parts of the country, they are still far higher than at previous times in the pandemic. As a result, health and social care services are being impacted by an increase in the number of people in hospital with COVID-19 and the number of staff off work due to the virus, in addition to the winter pressures seen in a normal year. 

There is plenty of capacity for walk-ins and booked appointments in Devon so anyone who has not come forward is urged to Get Boosted Now to protect against Omicron. All adults can now have their booster dose three months after their second dose.

Details of walk-in clinics are being regularly shared on NHS Devon CCG’s Twitter channel. You can find your nearest walk-in clinic on NHS England’s site finder and appointments can be booked via the National Booking System.

Dr Michael Marsh, South West Medical Director NHS England and NHS
Improvement, said:

“Why not start the New Year with a resolution to keep
healthy and get a life-saving booster jab. It’s the best way to protect
yourself and your loved ones against Omicron. Also if you haven’t had your first or second dose yet, please come forward as it’s not too late and we would be pleased to see you.”

school classroom

Devon schools rise to the challenge 

Devon County Council schools have reported a 94 per cent pupil attendance this week, following a staggered start to the new term. Prior to Christmas, pupil attendance was around 90 per cent. 

All our schools reopened this week, with many secondaries providing on-site testing for pupils ahead of the term start. 

Our schools have encouraged the wearing of face coverings in communal areas since last summer due to the high number of positive cases, but now, the national guidance expects secondary school pupils to wear them in the classroom as well, unless exempt.

Steve Brown, our Director of Public Health, said: 

“I want to thank pupils and parents for their continued support in helping to follow the national guidance, to help contain the spread of the virus. 

“With schools back this week, and with the highly infectious Omicron variant getting a stronger foothold in Devon, we expect case rates to rise over coming weeks. 

“I ask that pupils continue to wear face coverings in the classroom, as well as in communal areas, and to keep up with the regular lateral flow tests when showing no symptoms. 

“We are continuing to work very closely with our schools and colleges, especially where we see outbreaks, to help reduce risk to pupils and staff.” 

travelling to England

Pre-departure testing removed for vaccinated travellers

The government has announced that COVID-19 testing and border measures are changing for fully eligible fully vaccinated travellers arriving in England.

From 4.00am on Sunday 9 January, eligible fully vaccinated travellers and over five year olds will be able to take a lateral flow test instead of a PCR on or before day two of their arrival in England. Lateral flow tests for travel can be booked from today (Friday 7 January) and taken upon arrival, by the end of day two.

Lateral flow tests for international travel must be purchased from a private provider as NHS Test and Trace lateral flow tests cannot be used for international travel. Passengers who have already bought a PCR to use for travel do not need to buy another test as PCRs can still be used.

Since 4.00am today (Friday 7 January) eligible fully vaccinated passengers and under 18 year olds no longer need to take a pre-departure test or self-isolate on arrival in England, but must continue to take their post-arrival tests.

Anyone who receives a positive result on their lateral flow test must self-isolate immediately and order a NHS PCR test from the government website. Positive PCR tests for arrivals will be sequenced to understand if and where variants are emerging around the globe in order to protect the UK public.

Unvaccinated passengers must continue to take a pre-departure test, PCR test on or before day 2 and on or after day 8 and self-isolate for 10 days. ‘Test to release’ remains an option for unvaccinated people to shorten their self-isolation period.

Read more at devon.gov.uk/news