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CORONAVIRUS INFORMATION

Devon’s COVID-19 rates approach national average, our public health experts are working with schools to reduce transmission and we’re offering free fruit and vegetable boxes to give children a healthy start

COVID-19 cases in Devon - 2,795
Graph showing 2,795 confirmed cases in Devon

Devon’s coronavirus case rates have fallen further this week and, while they remain high, are approaching the national average. However it is likely that with schools and colleges returning, we will see a rise in cases among those age groups. 

Case rates are currently highest in the 0 to 19 year old age group, but these rates are much lower than they were in mid-August.

Cases remain high across the county generally, and are highest in Mid Devon.


In this update:

  • Public health experts working with schools and colleges to reduce transmission 
  • Free fruit and vegetable boxes offer Devon’s children a healthy start
  • Consultation on compulsory vaccination for frontline health and care staff
  • COVID-19 impacts and increased demand for health and social care services
  • Cycle September is back!
teacher in classroom

Public health experts working with schools and colleges to reduce transmission 

With most schools and colleges back this week, students will be familiarising themselves with new routines. 

Our Director of Public Health, Steve Brown, has been asked what additional measures are in place in schools because of Devon’s high case rates and recent designation as an Enhanced Response Area

Secondary school and college students are being asked to take two in-school assisted lateral flow tests, before continuing to test themselves twice weekly at home. And with the new Enhanced Response Area designation in Devon, pupils are expected to wear face coverings when on school grounds in communal areas, such as corridors and other shared spaces. 

“Schools and colleges have worked hard over the holidays to prepare for the safe return to the classroom, with coronavirus still in our communities,” said Steve.

“One-way systems, and routes around school or college to aid social distancing will be in place in many schools. And a requirement for schools and colleges to maintain good ventilation will mean windows and doors should be left ajar to encourage fresh air flow.”

Asked about the what additional measures are in place in schools because of the recent Enhanced Response Area designation, Steve said:

“Public health teams are working closely with schools and colleges and we are monitoring the situation carefully.

“Coronavirus cases have been falling in recent weeks across the county, but because schools and colleges are a good barometer of what’s happening in their local communities, the expectation is that we are likely to see a rise in cases among school and college-aged people, even among those who may now have had their COVID-19 vaccination. 

“Face coverings in communal areas are required, albeit it optional for pupils in the classroom. We will review this measure in two weeks and will make a decision whether to continue that, or whether additional face covering measures are required, depending on the data. 

“By monitoring the data closely, we will also be able to advise schools and colleges on any additional measures required to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading within the classroom.”

Care home

Plans approved to boost social worker retention 

Recruitment and retention of a high quality workforce has long been a challenge for our children’s social care services, and with the coronavirus pandemic, it’s become even more difficult as applications have fallen and competition for staff has increased. 

At the same time, we, like our neighbouring authorities, have seen rising numbers of children being referred to us since the second lockdown ended, higher numbers of children in care and children subject to child protection plans. 

So this week, our Cabinet agreed a £3.4 million package to deal with the significant shortage of children’s social workers in some of our key areas. 

The new measures include better pay for key roles, retention payments, more administrative support to free up social workers to focus on doing direct work with children and families, and expanding training schemes and workforce development. 

You can find out more, including what Melissa Caslake, our new Chief Officer for Children’s Services, said about the plans, on our News Centre.

Free fruit and veg boxes

Free fruit and vegetable boxes offer Devon’s children a healthy start

The past 18 months have been a struggle, particularly for those families with young children who face financial challenges of being on low incomes.

Worrying about money can have a real impact on someone’s physical and mental health, and make it difficult for families to eat healthily. So we’re encouraging two and a half thousand eligible families in Devon to sign up to receive a seasonal fruit and vegetable box this Autumn as part of an initiative to help raise awareness of the government’s Healthy Start scheme, which is due to go digital later this year.

The ‘Get a Healthy Start’ box contains fresh fruit and vegetables and simple plant-based recipe ideas, with tips on how to swap or add ingredients (including meat and fish) and prevent food waste. The box will also contain free vitamins and information on how to apply and make the most of the Healthy Start scheme.

The Healthy Start scheme provides eligible families who are pregnant or have children under the age of 4 years old, with financial support to spend on cow’s milk; fresh, frozen or tinned fruit and vegetables; fresh, dried, and tinned pulses; infant formula, and free vitamins.

Recent research has shown that just under a third of households in Devon with children are experiencing food insecurity, but at the moment, only around half of eligible families are signed up to the scheme, which means many are missing out on much needed support.

For more information on Healthy Start please visit the NHS website or fill in this online form to order a ‘Get a Healthy Start’ box.

COVID-19 vaccine

Consultation on compulsory vaccination for frontline health and care staff 

The government has previously said that staff working specifically in care homes, and visitors – such as trades people and professionals who access those care homes – will need to be double COVID-19 vaccinated by Monday 11 November, unless exempt. 

But now the government is also proposing compulsory COVID-19 and flu jabs for frontline NHS and care workers. 

They have launched a six-week consultation to look at whether the requirements should apply for health and wider social care workers – those in contact with patients and people who receive care.  

If agreed, it would mean that only those staff who are fully vaccinated, unless exempt, would be able to be deployed to deliver health and care services. 

The government says that 92 per cent of NHS staff have had their first dose, and 88 per cent have had both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. 

Ministers are urging the remainder to take up the offer now, to keep themselves and those they care for safe.

Carer wearing PPE facemask, apron and gloves

COVID-19 impacts and increased demand for health and social care services

Like elsewhere in the country, Devon is seeing an increase in people admitted to hospital with COVID-19, which means there are fewer beds available for other patients. Those in most urgent need are being prioritised, but some patients will wait longer for treatment.

Services across the health and care system are affected by the number of staff isolating due to COVID-19 and job vacancies that haven’t been filled. Pressures from the ongoing pandemic are affecting care providers ability to resource care packages, which makes it harder to discharge patients from hospital in a timely way.

So in order to keep caring for those most in need, the NHS has had to temporarily stop undertaking some routine work, including operations, outpatient appointments and some follow-up appointments for patients with long-term conditions.

The NHS is asking people to help by using services wisely and doing their bit to reduce the spread of COVID-19:

  • keep hospital emergency departments for emergencies. If your condition isn’t an emergency, choose a different service
  • use your local pharmacist for minor conditions such as insect bites, ear ache and skin rashes – they can provide expert advice and a fast route to medication
  • use the HANDi paediatric app for advice on common childhood illnesses
  • use NHS 111 online or by phone if you need advice or medical treatment quickly and can’t wait to see your GP. If you need to be seen by a minor injuries unit or emergency department they can book you in
  • get vaccinated against COVID-19
  • continue to maintain social distancing, good hand hygiene and meet outside where possible to reduce the spread of the virus
  • collect friends or family members from hospital as soon as possible when they are ready to leave. It means their bed can be given to someone who needs it
Friends riding bikes

Cycle September is back!

The coronavirus pandemic has seen many people dig a bike out and get on two wheels for the first time in years. And now with more and more people returning to the office, it’s a great time for workplaces and communities in Devon to promote active travel by taking part in Cycle September.

Cycle September is a fun and friendly global bike challenge where individuals, businesses and communities compete to see who can get the most friends, family and co-workers to ride a bike during the month.

It’s all about cycling anywhere and anytime and encouraging others to ride too! Every ride counts, even a 10-minute ride around the park will help you climb the leader boards. There are prizes to be won and leader boards are split by size and industry – so even a small team can still aim for the top spot.

So far, the annual challenge has engaged around 400 organisations and encouraged over 1,600 new riders to take up cycling in Devon!

Riding a bike has so many benefits for our physical and mental health. It helps to tackle stress and anxiety and strengthens our immune systems. It’s a great way to exercise, get out in the fresh air and feeling connected with the world around you. So what are you waiting for?

For more information, including how to sign up, please visit the Love to Ride Devon website.

If you’re feeling a bit nervous about getting on a bike, why not book one of our free two hour adult cycle confidence sessions. The sessions are one-to-one and completely tailored to your requirements. Find out more on the Travel Devon website.

windows open in classroom

Schools and colleges to receive carbon dioxide monitors to improve ventilation in the classroom 

Last month the government announced that they would be making carbon dioxide monitors available to schools and other education settings in England to help improve ventilation, to lessen coronavirus outbreaks. 

The portable monitors could be used to identify areas where more air-flow is needed to help reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading and provide reassurance that existing ventilation measures are working, helping balance the need for good ventilation with keeping classrooms warm. 

The first deliveries to state-funded special schools will start this week. Special schools, alternative provision and residential schools have been prioritised to receive their monitors first, given their higher-than-average numbers of vulnerable pupils. All schools and colleges are expected to receive at least partial allocations during the autumn term.

young people

90% of Devon’s over 16s have had COVID-19 vaccine

Latest figures show that more than 1.75 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been given in Devon, with nine in 10 over 16 year olds having had their first dose since becoming eligible last month.

Teenagers are being encouraged to ‘grab their jab’ as the new school term starts and they return to school or college to give them the best possible protection against coronavirus.

It has never been easier to drop in and get your life-saving vaccine: it is safe, effective and will provide vital protection for you and your family and friends. Find your nearest vaccination site through the NHS online walk-in finder. Those who are within three months of their 18th birthday can book in through the national booking service.

Children aged 12 to 15 years old who are clinically vulnerable to COVID-19 or who live with adults who are at increased risk of serious illness from the virus are also being contacted by the NHS and invited for their vaccine.

NHS app COVID-19 pass

Guidance on NHS COVID-19 pass updated

Earlier this week the government updated the guidance on how to get the NHS COVID-19 Pass and demonstrate COVID-19 status when travelling abroad and domestically at events and venues in England.

The update includes information highlighting that children under 18 years old do not have to demonstrate their COVID-19 status for entry to domestic events or venues in England. It also confirms that young people aged 16 years old or over can get an NHS COVID-19 Pass for travel but should follow the entry requirements of the country they are travelling to.

Please visit the government website for more information about the NHS COVID-19 Pass, including what it is, how to get it and what you can use it for.

Let's keep life moving

The latest national advice on coronavirus (COVID-19) is available on the
government website and NHS website.

You can find local guidance and information about the impacts on our services on the Devon County Council website.

Devon at heightened response level due to case levels – Steve Brown explains. New study tests third vaccine dose. Pop-up testing steps up. Back to School special bulletin.

Case rates in Devon have fallen slightly, but with schools, colleges and universities returning soon, it’s expected that they will rise again. 3,249 coronavirus cases were reported in Devon in the latest recorded week, with our case rates overall still above the national average. Most cases are among the late teen to young working age population. Cases are currently highest in Teignbridge and Mid Devon.

In this update:

  • Director of Public Health Devon explains the latest on enhanced response area status
  • New study tests third vaccine dose for people with weakened immune systems 
  • Business confidence hits highs 
  • Pop-up testing and vaccination steps up to meet the challenge 
  • Back to School special bulletin 
  • Getting about safely in Devon

Steve Brown explains the latest on enhanced response area status 

Steve Brown, our Director of Public Health Devon has been in talks this week with various government departments to understand what support is available from them to help reduce coronavirus case rates in the county, having been designated an ‘enhanced response area’ last week. 

“We’re going to see better use of our community testing vans,” he says, in his latest recorded message.   

“We’ve got five testing vans, which go out across Devon.  Two of those vans already have embedded vaccination teams, so they’re going out to areas where there’s low uptake of vaccine and encouraging particularly young people and people who probably wouldn’t ordinarily go to our fixed vaccination sites to come forward to get vaccinated. 

“We’re going to be looking at testing as well to make sure that there is capability across the whole of Devon, so people can access testing swiftly and easily. 

“We’re also going to see an increase in our public health campaigns, to encourage people to get tested if they have symptoms, and obviously to take up the vaccination programme.” 

Steve Brown says that although cases have fallen a little, he expects they’ll rise again once schools, colleges and universities return in the next week or so.  

“We’ve all got a vital role to play,” he said.   

“Together we can help keep the rate as low as possible as we go into the autumn and winter.”  

Listen to the full recording on our YouTube channel. 

Pop-up testing and vaccination steps up to meet the challenge 

The government announced last week that Devon, alongside Plymouth, Torbay, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, is now designated an ‘enhanced response area’. 

It’s because coronavirus case rates in the four authority areas are among the highest in the country. 

With that designation comes additional support from the government to help reduce the case rates, and we’re now in discussion with central government to consider the additional support options. 

But this week, we’ve announced additional resource for our pop-up testing and vaccination service, so that we can cover more ground and vaccinate more people in Devon. 

“Our pop-up community testing sites have been running for many months and we’ve recently expanded them to include vaccinations,” said Steve Brown, Director of Public Health Devon. 

“From next week, we’ll have vaccine teams embedded within our own clinics, providing us more flexibility to schedule pop-up stops in towns and parishes across Devon where we know vaccine take up is low.” 

This week, our pop-up testing and vaccination van was outside Exeter Central Station. Over two days we vaccinated more than 150 people – a lot of them college-age students. 

The pop-up vaccination service is to support the local roll out of the vaccination programme, which has reached nearly 90 per cent of the adult population in Devon with at least one dose. 

“This extra resource for our pop-up service means that we will be able to respond quickly to get the vaccine out to more people,” said Steve Brown. 

We’ll have our pop-up back in Exeter this Saturday, at Exeter Central Station in the morning (9.00am to 1.00pm) before moving to St James Park (1.30pm to 5.30pm) for the Grecians’ home game against Forest Green Rovers. 

And from Monday 6 September, we intend to offer two clinics per day, every day, at locations across the county. Our ambition is to scale-up the pop-up vaccination service to all five of their routes, visiting five or even ten locations every day. 

Find a walk-in coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination site

If you are 16 or over, you can also get a COVID-19 vaccine from a walk-in COVID-19 vaccination site without an appointment.

You don’t need to be registered with a GP, or bring ID. It might help to bring your NHS number.

If you’re under 16 and eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, you cannot use these walk-in sites to get vaccinated. Please wait to be contacted by the NHS.

Back to School special bulletin 

Parents of secondary school or college-age children and young people are asked to make sure their child has a face covering with them for the return to school/college, unless they are exempt. 

They’ll need it in communal areas at school or college, and they are strongly encouraged to wear them on public and dedicated school transport.

Earlier this week, we published a Back to School special bulletin.

It’s packed with information about the start of term COVID-19 testing; mixing and ‘bubbles’; face coverings; contact tracing and self-isolation – and financial support to care for a child who is self-isolating; free school meals; exams and assessments; and lots more. 

If you missed it, you can see it again!

Or you can subscribe to receive our Connect Me Children and Families bulletin.

Getting about safely in Devon

With people back from holidays and returning to work or education, there will be more people back on the move.

Please be aware of the latest advice on travel – whether that’s walking, cycling, and travelling in vehicles or on public transport during the coronavirus outbreak.

With the county now at heightened level of alert because of the high case rates, it’s now really important to do all we can to reduce risk to ourselves and others.

Please re-familiarise yourselves with the latest travel advice.

New study tests third vaccine dose for people with weakened immune systems 

A new clinical trial will investigate whether a third dose of vaccine for people with weakened immune systems gives a stronger immune response than two doses. 

It will offer people who are immunosuppressed or immunocompromised a Pfizer, Moderna or Novavax vaccine to determine whether this will give a stronger immune response than two doses. 

The trial has published preliminary data showing that 89 per cent of people who are immunocompromised or immunosuppressed generate antibodies following vaccination, and 60 per cent generated a strong antibody response following two doses of a vaccine. 

The government’s said, “We know some people may get less protection from the vaccine than others, so we are planning for a booster programme in the autumn, prioritising those most at risk. This new study will play an important role in helping to shape the deployment of future vaccines doses for these specific at-risk groups.” 

How the vaccination programme is going 

Across the country, 48 million people have now received their first COVID-19 vaccine dose, with 42.8 million having received their second. 

Everyone over 18 years old has been offered their first dose, and 16 to 17 year olds are currently invited to come forward for theirs. 

Our pop-up testing and vaccination vehicle was in Exeter on Wednesday and Thursday, outside Exeter Central Station. Over the two days, more than 150 people came forward – a lot of them students.

The Department of Health and Social Care, (DHSC), said this week that the vaccine programme has so far saved more than 105,000 lives and over 82,100 hospitalisations prevented. 

Business confidence hits highs 

British business confidence hits highs not seen since April 2017 on hopes the economy is recovering strongly to pre-pandemic levels, it’s reported.   

The Lloyds Bank Business Barometer surveys 1,200 firms each month. It’s found that overall business confidence among UK firms rose to 36 per cent in August, driven by improvements in companies’ trading prospects and expectations of stronger growth in the year ahead. 

Increases in confidence were recorded in regions including the South West. 

The latest findings echo our own evaluations. Our report in August highlighted that while the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic has been more widespread across Devon than previous recessions, there are now positive signs of recovery. 

Read our own assessment of Devon’s local economy.

The latest national advice on coronavirus (COVID-19) is available on the
government website and NHS website.

You can find local guidance and information about the impacts on our services on the Devon County Council website.

Devon designated an ‘enhanced response area’ as case rates near double the national average

5,043 COVID-19 cases in Devon 16 to 22 August 2021

Devon and the neighbouring authorities Torbay, Plymouth, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly have been designated as an ‘enhanced response area’ today by the government because COVID-19 case rates are so high.

The number of cases are rising again nationally, and in Devon, they are far higher (622 per 100,000 of the population) than the latest national average (332).

Positive cases remain mostly in the late teen and young adult age group, and socialising appears to be the main driver. Case rates in all eight district areas of Devon are among the highest in the country.

In this update:

  • Devon designated an ‘enhanced response area’
  • Mobile test and vaccination pilot a proven success
  • Young COVID-19 patients share stories to urge others to get jabbed
  • Devon’s health and care system under extreme pressure
  • Smoking and drinking increased during first lockdown
COVID-19 alert in Devon

Devon designated an ‘enhanced response area’

Devon, Torbay, Plymouth, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly have all been designated an ‘enhanced response area’ by the government today. 

It’s because coronavirus case rates in the far South West are so high, so the government is prioritising the area for additional support to drive down case numbers. 

It doesn’t mean another local lockdown, but it does mean that local authorities will have more flexibility to introduce additional public health measures if considered necessary, so we welcome this decision.

Here in Devon, most coronavirus cases are among late teens and younger adults. Socialising is seen as the main driver for the rise in case numbers. It’s not unexpected, given the removal of restrictions and the opening up of opportunities to mix. Our popularity as a major visitor destination also makes us busy with crowds, where coronavirus quickly spreads. 

We already work with our neighbouring authorities, Public Health England and NHS Devon, but the enhanced response area designation means that we’re now also working with the government to see what else can be done to reduce Devon’s coronavirus case rate. 

We need you to work with us too. Please do your bit by: 

  • limiting your social contacts to stop the virus spreading 
  • meeting others outside, because that’s safer than meeting inside 
  • continuing to wear face coverings when indoors in public places 
  • washing your hands properly and regularly 
  • testing yourself regularly with rapid lateral flow device tests
  • having the COVID-19 vaccine when offered
  • self-isolating and arranging a PCR test if you show any symptoms of coronavirus or you are told to by NHS Test and Trace
mobile testing and vaccination unit in Kingbridge town square

Mobile test and vaccination pilot a proven success

In last week’s edition of this newsletter we told you about a trial to use our mobile COVID-19 testing units to deliver vaccinations as well.

It’s to help the local NHS to target specific groups in the community or areas of Devon where there is low vaccine uptake. 

We piloted this in Kingsbridge last week, and it was a success. 

You can read more about the people who benefited from getting their vaccination at our mobile testing unit on our News Centre.

Vaccinations will be available in our mobile unit:

  • in Kingsbridge’s town square on Thursday 2 September.
  • outside Exeter Library on Tuesday 7 September
  • in the Lidl car park on Burnthouse Lane in Exeter on Friday 17 September

We plan to add further dates and locations of where you can get vaccinated at our mobile unit on our website soon.

Young COVID-19 video

Young COVID-19 patients share stories to urge others to get vaccinated

Young COVID-19 patients have told their stories of battling the virus and suffering long-term debilitating effects as part of a new film encouraging people to get vaccinated. The video features several patients who experienced serious symptoms of coronavirus or developed long-COVID, as well as the doctors and frontline staff who treated them, to warn of the dangers of the virus to those who haven’t had their vaccine.

It comes as young people aged 16 to 17 years old in England are being offered the vaccine, along with all at-risk people aged 12 to 15 years old, and are encouraged to take up the offer as soon as possible to build vital protection before returning to school in September.

The latest figures show that hospitals are seeing a rise in unvaccinated young adults admitted with COVID-19, with people aged 18 to 34 year olds now making up more than one in five of those admitted to hospital with the virus, which is four times higher than the pandemic peak during the winter of 2020.

Vaccines are available free of charge, and if you’re over 18 years old or your 18th birthday is within the next three months, you can book an appointment through the national booking service or by ringing 119. Alternatively you can  wait to be invited for your vaccination by your GP or visit a walk-in centre without the need to book in advance.

Get the care you need, no matter what the problem

Devon’s health and care system under extreme pressure

Devon’s health and social care system is under extreme pressure due to high demand for services and the number of staff and patients affected by COVID-19. As a result, people are facing longer waits in emergency departments and planned procedures are being postponed.

The NHS is asking people to help by using services wisely and doing their bit to reduce the spread of COVID-19:

  • keep hospital emergency departments for emergencies. If your condition isn’t an emergency, choose a different service
  • use your local pharmacist for minor conditions such as insect bites, ear ache and skin rashes – they can provide expert advice and a fast route to medication
  • use the HANDi paediatric app for advice on common childhood illnesses
  • use NHS 111 – online or by phone if you need advice or medical treatment quickly and can’t wait to see your GP. If you need to be seen by a minor injuries unit or emergency department they can book you in
  • get vaccinated against COVID-19
  • continue to maintain social distancing, good hand hygiene and meet outside where possible to reduce the spread of the virus
  • collect friends or family members from hospital as soon as possible when they are ready to leave. It means their bed can be given to someone who needs it
laboratory worker with a syringe

Government launches UK-wide antibody programme

A new programme has been launched to find out more about how much natural protection people get from having had COVID-19.

From this week, adults testing positive for coronavirus with a PCR test will be able to opt in to the programme and given two home antibody tests, which involve a simple finger prick. 

The first one would have to be done as soon as possible after a positive PCR test result, before the body has time to generate antibodies to the infection. And the second finger prick test would be taken 28 days later. Both will measure the antibody response over that period. 

Up to 8,000 antibody tests per day will be given as part of the programme, which is run by the UK Health Security Agency, working alongside NHS Test and Trace services in the UK. 

Its Chief Executive, Dr Jenny Harries, says the programme will help us gain vital insight into the impact of the vaccination programme and immune responses to different variants. 

elderly couple

Supporting carers to get their COVID-19 vaccine

Do you look after someone who relies on your help? Would you like to have your COVID-19 vaccination but have difficulty leaving those you care for?

You can get help to organise your vaccination through the Devon Vaccine Support Team, including arranging your vaccination at a time to suit you, fast tracking your appointment to get you home more quickly or arranging transportation. To find out more please email d-ccg.devonvaccinationsupport@nhs.net or call 01752 398836.

There are more services to help you, depending on where you live:

smoking

Smoking and drinking increased during first lockdown

The number of 18 to 34 year olds who smoke increased by a quarter during the first lockdown, according to Cancer Research UK. Based on population estimates, it suggests an extra 652,000 young adults were smoking, compared with before the pandemic. 

But there was also an increase in the number of existing smokers quitting successfully, so overall figures show the levels of smoking in adults has remained roughly the same.

Heavy drinking increased across adults of all ages, at the same time. 

The findings are based on monthly surveys involving hundreds of people, about tobacco and alcohol use. 

“We found that many smokers took this opportunity to stop smoking, which is fantastic,” says lead researcher, Dr Sarah Jackson of University College London. “It will be important to keep a close eye on how these increases in smoking and drinking develop over time to ensure appropriate support is made accessible for anyone who needs it.” 

Help and support is available for people in Devon to stop drinking or smoking. Please visit our One Small Step website to find out more. 

Get your second dose sooner

Vaccines still provide high levels of protection for the majority of the population

Research has confirmed that while experts are right to expect vaccine protection against coronavirus to diminish after a time, vaccines are still doing a very good job at protecting people against severe COVID-19 illness and death. 

One study looked at positive PCR test rest results between May and July 2021, and measured a decrease in protection over several months. 

But Public Health England estimate that around 84,600 deaths and 23 million infections have so far been prevented as a result of the COVID-19 vaccination programme in England, the BBC report.  

Professor Tim Spector, lead investigator behind one piece of research says that waning protection is to be expected and is not a reason not to get vaccinated. 

“Vaccines still provide high levels of protection for the majority of the population, especially against the Delta variant, so we still need as many people as possible to get fully vaccinated,” he said. 

I got the vaccine so I can enjoy my final year at uni whilst keeping everyone safe - Georgia, student in Plymouth

Outreach vaccination survey

Vaccines are the best way to protect people from COVID-19 and have already saved thousands of lives, but there are still people across Devon who have not yet had theirs.

There are many ways that people can receive their vaccination, including pop-up clinics, mobile vaccination units, mass vaccination centres and local GP led clinics.

The NHS in Devon is working in partnership with local leaders and community representatives to support everyone to have their COVID-19 vaccination, and they would like community groups, leaders and organisations to take part in a short confidential survey to help understand barriers and how they can work with communities to address them.

Let's keep life moving

The latest national advice on coronavirus (COVID-19) is available on the
government website and NHS website.

You can find local guidance and information about the impacts on our services on the Devon County Council website.

Festivals, large events and coronavirus, Devon’s care sector urgently needs your help, 16 and 17 year olds invited for COVID-19 vaccine.

Graph showing 2,949 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Devon in the week of August 8 - 14.

Weekly case rates in Devon remain high (363 per 100,000) and above the national average (308 per 100,000), and are continuing to increase. The highest case rates are among 15 to 19 year olds and the younger working age population, with case rates currently highest in Exeter, Teignbridge and North Devon. (Weekly rates are correct as of midday, Friday 20 August 2021).


In this update:

  • Festivals, large events and coronavirus
  • Mobile testing units to also deliver vaccinations
  • 16 and 17 year olds invited for COVID-19 vaccine
  • Devon’s care sector urgently needs your help
festival

Festivals, large events and coronavirus 

As hundreds of people return to Devon following days at the Boardmasters festival, we’ve been asked what the impact festivals and large events are having on local coronavirus case rates in Devon. 

Festivals, and any such large gatherings where there are a lot of people crowded together, are environments that bring with them heightened risk of transmission. 

And when audiences to those gatherings include younger people, who are not all vaccinated, then the risk of transmission again is greater. 

The same is true though of any event or setting where there’s socialising. It’s not just festivals. 

So perhaps it should not surprise us that the highest levels of positive cases in Devon now are in the 15 to 19 year old age group, and that socialising is the main driver for that trend. 

But with weeks of summer ahead, if you’re yet to go to a festival or an event or gathering where there will be crowds, or you’ve just returned from one, here’s some guidance.

mobile testing vaccines

Mobile testing units to also deliver vaccinations

For months, we’ve been operating a fleet of mobile testing units that deliver lateral flow tests for people who have no symptoms of coronavirus, in towns across the county.   

It’s one of the main ways of stopping the spread of coronavirus, by identifying people likely to have the virus and asking them to self-isolate pending a full, laboratory-analysed, PCR test. 

We’ve now partnered-up with the local NHS to use our mobile testing vehicles to deliver vaccinations, as well as lateral flow tests, to targeted areas – where there is low vaccine uptake for example, or to target specific groups in the community. 

Steve Brown, Director of Public Health Devon, said: 

“The COVID-19 vaccines are proven to help reduce the likelihood of becoming seriously unwell, needing hospital treatment or dying of coronavirus-related illness. It also helps reduce the risk of transmission for people who have the virus. So it’s really important that people have the vaccine when it’s offered to them. 

“Take-up of the vaccine in Devon has been very good, but there are still pockets where it’s below average. We and the local NHS are working together to take the vaccine to those areas to improve take-up. Our mobile testing units are the perfect vehicles, literally, to get the vaccine to harder to reach audiences.”

We’ve just done a pilot run in Kingsbridge this week, and have pencilled in stops in Exeter for early next month. Keep an eye on our social media channels to find out more.

get vaccinated

16 and 17 year olds invited for COVID-19 vaccine 

Young people aged 16 and 17 years in Devon are now being invited to book their COVID-19 vaccine. 

People aged over 17 and 9 months can make an appointment online with the National Booking System or by calling 119, or they can attend one of the many walk-in clinics running every day.  

People aged 16 to 17 years and 9 months can either wait to be invited by their GP for an appointment, or attend a walk-in session. Proof of identification at walk-in vaccination centres is not necessary, but having your NHS number would be helpful. You can find your NHS number online. 

Young people will be given the Pfizer vaccine, in line with the recommendation of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation. 

To encourage take-up, a national campaign has been launched across social media channels including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and TikTok, as well as on radio stations. 

Care worker worker with older woman

Devon’s care sector urgently needs your help

Devon’s care sector is struggling right now, as coronavirus and other illness are leaving care workers unable to work.

It means care providers can’t do all the things they want to do to support people, and that vulnerable people are at risk of not receiving the care they need when they need it. 

“The situation is becoming unsustainable,” said our Cabinet Member responsible for adult care and health, Cllr James McInnes.

We put out an appeal earlier this week calling for people to come forward to work in the care sector, even if it’s just for the next few months to help over this period of greatest pressure.

Cllr James McInnes and Dr Len Lofts, Chief Executive of Northam Care Trust, spoke to ITV Westcountry, and they described the picture in Devon.

Devon has an army of care workers in care homes, people’s own homes, and other settings up and down the county every day, helping and supporting those that can’t look after themselves. But we need more.

If you have worked in care before or are considering it now, please contact us. Register your interest by visiting the Proud to Care website, leaving your name, contact details and a postcode, and our recruitment team will get back to you.

Or you can search for the latest care job vacancies, apprenticeships and training opportunities in the care sector in Devon.

laboratory worker with a syringe

COVID-19 vaccines offer good protection against new infections 

A new study has shown that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, though initially less effective, offers the same levels of protection against coronavirus after four to five months as the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Both COVID-19 vaccines still offer good protection against new infections, but effectiveness is reduced compared with the Alpha variant. 

Research published this week by the University of Oxford and the Nuffield Department of Medicine looked at the impact of the Delta variant – the dominant variant in the UK now – and vaccine effectiveness. 

It found that two doses of either vaccine provides at least the same level of protection as having had COVID-19 before through natural infection. 

People who had been vaccinated after already being infected with COVID-19 had even more protection than vaccinated people who hadn’t had the virus. 

The study also found that the time between doses does not impact effectiveness in preventing new infections, but younger people have even more protection from vaccination than older people. 

RNLI lifeguard punching through surf on a rescue water craft

RNLI lifeguards issue safety warnings

Lots more of us are holidaying in the UK this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, and the recent damp and windy August weather has not put beach goers off.

RNLI lifeguards across the south west are reporting busy beaches and an increase in the number of incidents they are dealing with.

And if the weather forecast is to be believed, a spell of welcome sunshine and surf is predicted for the coming weeks, coupled with big tides, so the charity’s life savers are urging beach goers to be aware of the conditions and their capabilities, to head to a lifeguarded beach and to heed safety advice before going into the water.

The key summer safety advice is:

  • visit a lifeguarded beach and swim between the red and yellow flags
  • if you get into trouble Float to Live – lie on your back and relax, resisting the urge to thrash about
  • call 999 in an emergency and ask for the Coastguard
Let's keep life moving

The latest national advice on coronavirus (COVID-19) is available on the
government website and NHS website.

You can find local guidance and information about the impacts on our services on the Devon County Council website.

Change in self-isolation rules from Monday and why is Exeter’s case rate so high?

weekly cases 13.08.21

Case rates over the last few weeks in Devon are the highest they have been since the start of the pandemic, with cases in Exeter among the highest in the country.

The rates in Devon for the latest reported week – 347 per 100,000 people of population* – have increased again, and remain above the national average (299 per 100,000*). The latest weekly rates are highest in the Exeter area, and mostly within the younger working age group and late teens.

*data correct as of midday Friday 13 August.

In this update:

  • Why is Exeter’s case rate so high?
  • Change in self-isolation rules from Monday 16 August
  • Equipment amnesty due to supply chain issues
  • What to do if you need medical help on holiday in England 
  • More vaccination centre volunteers needed
  • Double vaccinations required for care home workers
person cycling in Exeter

Why is Exeter’s case rate so high?

Devon’s coronavirus case rate is still a touch above the national average, but the number of cases in Exeter in particular are among the highest in the country. 

Steve Brown, our Director of Public Health Devon, has been asked a lot this week about why Exeter’s case rate is so high

“Cases are across people of all ages, but predominantly among younger working age people and late teens – so 16 to 44 year olds,” explains Steve. 

“The data doesn’t point to there being any particular outbreak of size in any particular locations. 

“Neither is there any evidence to suggest the rise is attributable to holiday makers to Devon.” 

So what is it? 

It’s a combination of factors that include:  

  • the Delta strain, dominant across the country including Devon, is much easier to catch and spread than previous variants 
  • lifting of most restrictions, which has opened up social mixing 
  • more people returning to work, including in hospitality and retail where lots of people are in close contact with each other 

 “These may be some of the reasons why we’re seeing an increase in cases,” said Steve. 

 “But we are not seeing the high case rates reflected in coronavirus-related hospitalisations, and that’s because of the vaccination programme. 

 “There are simple and effective steps that we can continue to take that help to reduce the risk of catching and spreading the virus, and I urge people to follow them.”

Find out what steps you can take to reduce the risk of catching the virus on our News Centre.

self isolation 16/8

Self-isolation rules change from Monday

The rules change on Monday 16 August, for people who have received both their vaccinations against coronavirus, and people aged under 18. 

They will no longer need to self-isolate if they’ve been identified as a close contact of someone with COVID-19. 

Right now, it’s a legal requirement to self-isolate for anyone contacted by Test and Trace teams, because they’ve been in close proximity with someone who has since tested positive for COVID-19.

But from Monday, people who are double vaccinated and those under 18 will be exempt from that legal requirement. 

They will however still be advised to take a PCR test, and if that’s positive, they’ll be legally required to self-isolate, irrespective of their vaccination status. 

elderly man's hands on a walking frame

Equipment amnesty announced due to supply chain pressures

Supply chain pressures are leading to a shortage of vital equipment such as mobility and toileting aids, hoists and hospital beds that help vulnerable people in Devon to live independently at home.

Continued high levels of coronavirus cases world-wide have been causing disruption to outbound supplies, especially from Asia where many items are manufactured and shipped from.

In addition, recent lockdowns and COVID-19 risks mean manufacturing factories are working on reduced capacity, increasing supplier lead-in times on many equipment lines.

With no sign of the situation improving soon, Millbrook Healthcare Ltd, Devon County Council and NHS Devon CCG, are calling an ‘equipment amnesty’, asking people who no longer need their community equipment, to return it free of charge.

Supply pressures are affecting the availability of four-wheeled walking frames and toileting equipment in particular to Devon. Other equipment used in high volumes includes hospital beds, clinical mattresses, pressure cushions and hoists.

Wheelchairs however, are not part of the amnesty, because these are not provided by the community equipment service which Millbrook delivers.

Collection of the equipment from people’s homes is free, and Millbrook staff will collect the items from properties.

The amnesty will run from Monday 9 to Monday 30 August. People should call 0330 124 8214 to arrange a collection.

NHS summer choose well

Getting medical advice while on holiday in England

Many people will be enjoying a staycation in England over the next few weeks, but what happens if you need medical help while away from home?  

If it’s something minor that’s troubling you, you can pop into a local pharmacy where you’re staying. Pharmacists are qualified healthcare professionals who can help with things like aches, pains, bites and stings or tummy troubles. 

If you need to access a GP practice on holiday, you can still call your own GP practice for support. Most offer telephone, video or online consultations and they’ll have all your medical records to hand, so always call your own practice first. 

But if it’s something more serious where you think you might need A&E, contact NHS 111 first. NHS 111 can book you into A&E or direct you to an alternative service, like a minor injuries unit, if it’s more appropriate. 

vaccine volunteers

Volunteers are making a difference – can you join them?

More than 2,400 volunteers have clocked up over 68,000 hours supporting the COVID-19 vaccine rollout from vaccination centres in Plymouth and Exeter. 

Meteorologist Helen Almond (above, right) says she was inspired to volunteer because some of her family have been working for the NHS through the pandemic:

“I felt there wasn’t a lot I could do as a regular person, but when the opportunity to volunteer came up it seemed like it was a chance to do something to help in a small way.”  

With many people going back to work, the NHS is looking for more volunteer marshals and stewards to help out at Greendale near Exeter and Home Park in Plymouth. 

And from September, older age groups and frontline health and care workers will be offered booster jabs, so vaccination centres will continue to need volunteers. 

Volunteering is flexible to fit around individual availability and is open to anyone aged 16 or over. Volunteers can offer to work a single shift, or several over a single day or even across different days.

Exeter COVID-19 Vaccination Centre at Greendale operates 12 hours a day, seven days per week with volunteers able to sign up to work four hour shifts, with shifts available from 8.00am – midday, midday – 4.00pm and 4.00pm – 8.00pm.

If you’d like to volunteer, you can fill in a simple application form on the ‘Our Plymouth’ website, which is the regional volunteering organisation that is coordinating the volunteers for all Mass Vaccination Centres in Devon. 

vaccination

Double vaccinations to be required before entering care homes 

New government regulations will come into force on Thursday 11 November 2021, requiring anyone who works or volunteers in a care home to be fully vaccinated against coronavirus, unless exempt. 

The regulations also apply to anyone entering a care home, with noted exceptions that include residents, visitors, children, emergency workers, and people considered to be nearing the end of their life. 

That means the regulations will apply to any professional that enters care home settings, such as plumbers, electricians, as well as hairdressers, chiropodists, painters and decorators. 

With regulations coming into force on Thursday 11 November, it means that care home workers, agency staff, volunteers and anyone who wants to enter care homes, who haven’t already been double vaccinated, will need to have had their first dose at the latest by the 16 September. 

Vaccinations can be booked online through the national booking service or by ringing 119. 

It’s also possible to visit a walk-in centre without the need to book in advance. Find your nearest centre.   

Let's keep life moving

The latest national advice on coronavirus (COVID-19) is available on the
government website and NHS website.

You can find local guidance and information about the impacts on our services on the Devon County Council website.

Case rates high in Devon, appeal for younger adults to get double vaccinated, childhood respiratory infections rise ahead of winter.

The picture in Devon this week - 26 July  1 August 2021

Case rates over the last few weeks in Devon are the highest they have been since the start of the pandemic, with case rates in Exeter in particular among the highest in the country.

The latest weekly rates show Devon’s case rates to be 310 per 100,000 of the population, compared to the national average of 282 per 100,000.  Exeter, Teignbridge and East Devon district areas have case rates above the national average.

Most Devon cases are among people in their late teens and of young working age population.

In this update:

  • Deputy Director of Public Health appeals to younger adults to get double vaccinated
  • Positive signs of recovery for Devon’s economy
  • Carers UK urges unpaid carers to make sure they’re vaccinated 
  • Childhood respiratory infections rise ahead of winter 
  • Improving your financial fitness
Teenagers running near a field

Deputy Director of Public Health appeals to younger adults to get double vaccinated

Devon’s claim to date that case rates in the county are below the England national average is no longer possible.  

The latest data shows that Devon’s weekly case rate average is now above the national average for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic.

And Exeter’s case rate in particular is among the country’s highest.

Cases are predominantly in children and younger adults, with the highest case rates in those aged 16 to 24 year olds.

“A lot of it is to be expected, with the gradual lifting of restrictions that we’ve seen over several months, and people having more opportunities to mix socially,” says Devon’s Deputy Director of Public Health, Tina Henry.

“A similar pattern is currently seen in many other cities like Exeter with a younger population profile.

“But we’re not seeing that follow through to hospitalisations, although hospitals are very busy right now. That’s largely thanks to the vaccine, which is why it’s so important to take both vaccinations when they’re offered to you.

“We’re now appealing especially to younger adults to make sure that they get double vaccinated.”

We can also all do our bit to protect ourselves, families and neighbours, by:

  • limiting our social contacts to stop the virus spreading
  • meeting others outside, because that’s safer than meeting inside
  • continuing to wear face coverings when indoors in public places
  • washing your hands properly and regularly
  • having the jab if you are an adult and haven’t yet had it. Please have both doses as soon as you can
  • self-isolating if told to do so by NHS Test and Trace
  • self-isolating and arranging a PCR test if you show any symptoms of having the virus – the high temperature, new and continuous cough, or change of your usual sense of taste or smell
Economy on board by creditscoregeek.com

Positive signs of recovery for Devon economy 

While the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic has been more widespread across Devon than previous recessions, there are positive signs of recovery. 

Our economy shrank by nearly 10 per cent last year, in line with the UK average. But research we’ve commissioned shows that economic output and unemployment is expected to recover by next year. 

That recovery is likely to be slower in all of Devon’s district areas outside of Exeter, particularly in Mid and West Devon. 

But today’s economic report shows many positive signs of recovery, including:

  • a strong bounce-back in recruitment
  • millions of pounds of investment and job creation
  • falling unemployment
  • above UK’s average footfall for South West retail
  • and our multi-million pound recovery programme supporting small and medium sized enterprises, employment and skills, the green recovery and the hardest hit towns and communities
Carers UK video

Carers UK urges unpaid carers to make sure they’re vaccinated 

Helen Walker, the Chief Executive of Carers UK, is urging all carers – people who are looking after family members or friends – to make sure they’re double vaccinated. 

“Hundreds and thousands of unpaid carers have now received their COVID-19 vaccine, a hugely important step in protecting themselves and the people they care for from coronavirus,” she says. 

“Those who are vaccinated are less likely to get seriously ill or die from COVID-19. They’re also less likely to pass the virus on to others. 

“So it’s especially important to take up the vaccine if you’re an unpaid carer to protect yourself and the people you care for. 

“So please join the millions of people who’ve had their double jab and stand together against COVID.” 

If you are an unpaid carer, aged over 18 and you haven’t received your vaccine yet, you can book an appointment at a time and a place convenient to you through the national booking service online or by ringing 119. 

You could also be vaccinated at one of hundreds of walk-in centres across the country without the need to book in advance.  

 infrared thermometer

Be wary of ‘inaccurate’ thermometers

Contactless infrared thermometers are widely used to check people for a raised temperature, so demand for these products has increased dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our trading standards team is urging people to take care when purchasing one online following an increase in the number of infrared thermometers that give inaccurate readings making their way into the UK market.

Ben Newell, Team Manager at the Heart of the South West Trading Standards Service, said:

“We advise that consumers buying these products or any medical device in shops or online check that they carry the CE or UKCA mark.

“These will either be on the device or on its packaging, or if you are buying online, should be included in the item description from the seller.”

The government’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) advises that anyone considering purchasing an infrared thermometer should follow the guidance on their website.

Video highlighting how we keep contact to a minimum

Knowing the risks helps us make better decisions 

Four short videos are being used to remind us to ‘know the risks’ as we go about our day to day lives. 

From socialising indoors or out, the messages are simple:   

  • if you need to meet indoors, let fresh air inside 
  • when you’re out and about, keep your distance 
  • reducing contact is still a key way to prevent catching or passing on the virus 
  • given the choice, try to meet outdoors as much as possible  

Knowing the risks, helps us make better decisions. We can all make small changes that make a big difference. 

Boy walking

Children less likely to experience long-term COVID-19 symptoms 

Children are less likely to experience long-term symptoms of coronavirus, according to a recent study. 

The study, published in The Lancet Child and Adolescent Health journal, used data gathered via a mobile app launched by Zoe Limited and King’s College London. 

It looked at 1,734 children aged between five and 17 who had tested positive for coronavirus between September 2020 and February 2021. 

Fewer than one in 20 experienced symptoms for four weeks or more, and just one in 50 had symptoms lasting more than eight weeks. 

Children aged between 12 to 17 took about a week to recover, while in younger children the illness lasted about five days.  

The most common symptoms were headaches and tiredness, sore throat and loss of smell. 

The study also looked at children with symptoms of coronavirus, but who had tested negative. Fewer than one in 100 children had symptoms lasting 28 days. 

money jar

Improving your financial fitness 

An estimated 20 million adults have seen their financial situation worsen significantly as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Financial Conduct Authority, which regulates the banking sector. 

MoneyHelper’s Couch to Financial Fitness plan is a free, step-by-step programme designed to help you manage your money, inspired by the popular Couch to 5K app.

It guides people through three simple activities a week over four weeks, to help them understand money basics, followed by a five-week extension to strengthen financial habits. 

It is now available to everyone via the recently-launched MoneyHelper website – part of the government-backed Money and Pensions Service. 

ill child

Childhood respiratory infections rise ahead of winter 

Parents and carers are encouraged to know the signs of respiratory illnesses in young children, as data published by Public Health England show cases starting to rise in parts of the country. 

We’re not talking about coronavirus, but respiratory illnesses like respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), which can cause a cough or cold, that are very common in young children and are seen every year. 

But last winter, when we’d usually see them, the restrictions in place to reduce the spread of coronavirus kept these other viruses at bay. There were far fewer infections in younger people, meaning many will not have developed immunity, so now there’s a possibility that there will be more cases this year than in a typical season. 

For most children, these illnesses are not serious and they’ll soon recover following rest and plenty of fluids. For others though, under two years old and those born prematurely or with a heart condition, it can be more serious. 

There’s more information, including what to look out for and when to seek medical advice, on the government’s website. 

Cyclists in Exeter

Make walking and cycling your first choice for shorter journeys 

Many of the temporary ‘pop-up’ measures introduced last year to support walking and cycling during the coronavirus pandemic lockdown are now being made permanent. 

Exeter, Sidmouth and Newton Abbot have all seen active travel measures made permanent, creating safer environments for pedestrians, cyclists and residents. 

We’ve invested over £25 million in walking and cycling projects across Devon in the last few years, and extending the county’s extensive leisure trail network to help make Devon the place to be naturally active. 

The Department for Transport has launched a ‘Summer of Cycling and Walking’ campaign, aiming to make cycling and walking the natural first choice for short journeys, and to inspire the nation to take up and enjoy the benefits of active travel as lockdown restrictions ease.  

Devon has over 3,500 miles of footpaths and trails to explore. Visit our website
to find new routes that you can discover this summer.

Let's keep life moving

The latest national advice on coronavirus (COVID-19) is available on the
government website and NHS website.

You can find local guidance and information about the impacts on our services on the Devon County Council website.

What’s happening to the COVID-19 case rate in Devon?

2,446 positive cases of COVID-19 in Devon from 19 to 25 July 2021

Over the last week COVID-19 case rates have fallen nationally and locally, however, they are still above those seen earlier in the pandemic and it is currently unclear if this is a longer-term trend.

The highest case rates remain in the younger age groups, mostly within younger working-age adults.

The weekly rate in Devon is now 304 per 100,000 of the population, compared to 351 for England. All district areas are below the national average except Exeter, (372) and North Devon is only slightly below (349).


In this update:

  • What’s happening to the COVID-19 case rate in Devon?
  • Let’s hear it for the girls! Higher proportion of younger females to younger men vaccinated 
  • Grab a jab with no booking required at Devon’s walk-in vaccination centres
  • Sun, sea, sand and PCR tests… travelling abroad this summer
  • Campaign launched to help people get healthy this summer
don't guess, get a test

What’s happening to the COVID-19 case rate in Devon?

COVID-19 levels nationally have fallen sharply over the last week and case rates in Devon have started to fall, but it’s too soon to know if that will continue.

But while the national data looks reassuring, it would be unwise to let that reassurance lead to less cautious behaviour, experts warn. 

Tina Henry, our Deputy Director for Public Health Devon, explains:

“We’re seeing just part of a picture. Cases nationally are falling, but there have been changes that might have a bearing on that, such as schools closing for summer and the good weather which allows us to spend more time with others outside, rather than inside.” 

However, COVID-19 case rates in Devon remain higher now than those seen earlier in the pandemic, when lockdowns and further restrictions were in place.

“It’s too early to be sure where the numbers are leading,” says Tina. “The next few weeks will give us a better sense of whether this is an indication of longer term decline.” 

In the meantime, the advice is to stay alert. Here’s how you can do your bit

Gareth Southgate posted a video on Twitter encouraging young people to get their COVID-19 vaccine

Let’s hear it for the girls! Higher proportion of younger females to younger men vaccinated 

Just over 50 per cent of females aged 18 to 49 years old have now had both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, compared to just under 40 per cent of males in the same age group. 

With case levels in Devon currently higher than we’ve seen earlier in the pandemic, there has never been a more important time to get yourself protected.

England men’s football manager, Gareth Southgate, posted a video on Twitter this week, encouraging everyone to get the jab, especially younger people.

“If you haven’t had your vaccine yet, just go and get it done,” he says. 

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

“If you’re over 18 years old you’re entitled to it and we urge you to come forward as soon as possible and get it done. It’s the only way to ensure you, your loved ones and our communities are protected.”

You can book a vaccination appointment today, using the online booking system or by calling NHS 119. Details of pharmacies and other vaccination sites offering walk-in COVID-19 vaccinations are available on the NHS website.

Get your second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

Grab a jab with no booking required at Devon’s walk-in vaccination centres

It’s so easy to get your COVID-19 jab. You can book a vaccination appointment using the online booking system, calling NHS 119 or by attending a walk-in clinic.

Devon sites offering walk-in vaccinations include:

  • Exeter Vaccination Centre, Greendale, EX5 1EW – every day (except Monday 2 August and Sunday 15 August) from 8.30am to 7.00pm for all cohorts, all doses, both AstraZeneca and Pfizer (2nd dose at 8 weeks from 1st dose) 
  • University of Exeter, Streatham Campus, Car Park C, EX4 4QJ – Thursday 5 August, from 10.00am to 5.00pm, for Pfizer first and second doses (2nd dose at 8 weeks from 1st dose) 
  • Ilfracombe – The Salvation Army, The Retreat, Torrs Park, EX34 8AY –Tuesday 3 August, from 10.00am to 2.30pm, for Pfizer first and second doses (2nd dose at 8 weeks from 1st dose) 
  • Barnstaple – North Devon Leisure Centre, Seven Brethren Bank, EX31 2AP – Sunday 1 August, Monday 2 August, Tuesday 3 August and Sunday 8 August, from 8.30am to 6.00pm, for Pfizer first and second doses (2nd dose at 8 weeks from 1st dose) 

Carers who would like to have their COVID-19 vaccination but cannot leave those that they care for can access help to get their vaccination through the Devon Vaccine Support Team by emailing d-ccg.devonvaccinationsupport@nhs.net or calling 01752 398836.


testing regularly protects us all

Keep up with COVID-19 testing this summer

It’s summertime (at last!), and the livin’ might seem easy now most legal COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted, but please don’t make the mistake of thinking the pandemic is over. 

Coronavirus will be a feature of our lives for the foreseeable future, so we need to learn to live with it. Regularly testing yourself to check if you have COVID-19, and self-isolating if you do have it so you don’t unknowingly infect someone else, is a vital part of controlling the virus.

If you do not have COVID-19 symptoms then you are encouraged to take a simple rapid lateral flow device (LFD) test a least twice a week, particularly when meeting with people you don’t live with – and get the results within 30 minutes.

If you do have symptoms of coronavirus, no matter how mild, get a PCR test as soon as possible and self isolate with your household until you get the results.

You can find out more about how to access COVID-19 testing in Devon on our website.

Back on the bus

Good to be back on the bus

The events of the last year have made people less confident about using public transport, particularly buses. Whether you’re a frequent bus user, or haven’t hopped on board for a while, be assured that Devon’s transport providers are keen for you to feel comfortable and confident during your journey.

While no situation is risk free, there are actions we can all take to protect ourselves and others around us when travelling on public transport. For example opening windows for ventilation, sanitising your hands regularly and covering you mouth and nose with a tissue or the inside of your elbow when coughing or sneezing. You could also plan your journey for quieter times of day or use routes and stops that aren’t so busy.

The legal requirement to wear face coverings on public transport in Devon has been lifted. However, the government expects and recommends that people wear face coverings in crowded areas such as on public transport.

This week we’ve been speaking to people as they travel on the bus. Come onboard and meet Wade, a key worker at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital.  

Visit the Travel Devon website to find information to help you get wherever you need to be.

Don't be a selfish parker

Don’t be a selfish parker

With coronavirus restrictions easing we are now able to venture further from home and residents and visitors are enjoying more of Devon’s beautiful beaches and countryside.

As popular beauty spots get busier, selfish and anti-social parking becomes a major frustration, so drivers are being asked to be kind and respect each other and make sure they park responsibly.

This includes not leaving vehicles obstructing pavements or blocking driveways, taking up more than one space or using designated bays they are not eligible to use. Most importantly drivers should be careful not to block access for emergency vehicles.

Our civil enforcement officers work hard to keep our roads and streets clear and safe for everyone to use. They ensure that local roads are kept clear so traffic can flow, ensure that on-street parking is not abused so there’s space to park and that communities are not blighted by illegal parking.


Don’t be a selfish parker

With coronavirus restrictions easing we are now able to venture further from home and residents and visitors are enjoying more of Devon’s beautiful beaches and countryside.

As popular beauty spots get busier, selfish and anti-social parking becomes a major frustration, so drivers are being asked to be kind and respect each other and make sure they park responsibly.

This includes not leaving vehicles obstructing pavements or blocking driveways, taking up more than one space or using designated bays they are not eligible to use. Most importantly drivers should be careful not to block access for emergency vehicles.

Our civil enforcement officers work hard to keep our roads and streets clear and safe for everyone to use. They ensure that local roads are kept clear so traffic can flow, ensure that on-street parking is not abused so there’s space to park and that communities are not blighted by illegal parking.


Just think 111 first

Just think 111 first and get straight to the help you need

The holiday season traditionally puts extra pressure on health services when more residents and visitors are outdoors enjoying everything Devon has to offer. 

If you need urgent, non-life-threatening medical care, get straight to the help you need with NHS 111 either by phone or online, any time of day or night.

Local pharmacies can provide expert advice and a fast route to medication for minor ailments and are open until late and at weekends with no need for an appointment.

The HANDi app provides up-to-date advice for common childhood conditions and illnesses and how to treat them as well as information about when and how to ask for help.

suitcase

Sun, sea, sand and PCR tests… travelling abroad this summer

The summer is usually when many of us hop on a boat, train or plane to seek out some guaranteed sunshine and a well earned break abroad, but the coronavirus pandemic means travelling is not straightforward at the moment. 

We’re urging holiday goers to make sure they know what they need to do before they travel abroad and when they return to England so their trip is as safe and disruption-free as possible.

The risk posed by individual countries and territories is continuously monitored and the green, amber and red lists are regularly reviewed by the government. Countries and territories can be moved between lists if conditions change, so stay up-to-date via the government’s website. You can sign up for an email alert to be notified when the government updates their website.

Better Health, Let's Do This

Campaign launched to help people get healthy this summer

A survey of over 5,000 adults has revealed that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted people’s eating and physical activity habits, with over 41 per cent of people in England saying that they have put on weight since the first lockdown in March 2020.

Public Health England has launched the latest Better Health campaign to encourage adults across the nation to lose excess weight, eat more healthily and get active this summer.

The NHS Better Health website offers free evidence-based support and guidance to those working towards a healthier weight and help them introduce changes that will help them eat better and get active. 

There’s also a range of NHS apps you can download, including the updated 12 week weight loss plan, couch to 5k, drink-free days, easy meals and food scanner.

Visit the NHS Better Health website for free tools and support to start leading a healthier lifestyle today.

man in shirt sleeves working at a laptop

Furlough rules change for employers on Sunday 1 August

The government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, known as furlough, changes again on Sunday (1 August). 

Under the scheme, employees receive 80 per cent of their current salary, capped at £2,500 a month. 

Since the beginning of July, employers have been asked to contribute 10 per cent towards the wages of furloughed workers for hours their staff do not work. But from Sunday 1 August, and throughout August and September, employers will have to pay 20 per cent of the employees’ wages, and the government will pay 60 per cent of wages, to a maximum of £1,875. 

For more information, please visit the government’s website.

Let's keep life moving

The latest national advice on coronavirus (COVID-19) is available on the
government website and NHS website.

You can find local guidance and information about the impacts on our services on the Devon County Council website.

Devon’s COVID-19 rates at the highest they’ve ever been so look out for each other and keep doing your bit to reduce the spread

3,309 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Devon 12 to 18 July 2021

There’s an ongoing increase in COVID-19 cases across Devon, which is to be expected following the lifting of restrictions and greater freedom for people to socialise.

The highest case rates remain in the young age groups, mostly within younger working-age adults.

The weekly rate in Devon is currently 412 per 100,000 of the population, compared to 540 for England. All local authority districts are below the national average, except North Devon which has a rate of 563.


In this update:

  • Look out for each other and keep doing your bit to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in Devon
  • Grab a jab and help protect the things we love
  • COVID-19 testing is more important than ever
  • Ambulance service experiences busiest week in its history
  • Local primary school pays tribute to NHS with a song
Enjoy Devon safely

Look out for each other and keep doing your bit to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in Devon

This week England reached the fourth step of the government’s roadmap out of lockdown, with the majority of COVID-19 restrictions ending and replaced with guidance emphasising personal judgement and responsibility.

Steve Brown, Director of Public Health Devon, is urging residents to keep doing their bit to reduce the spread of coronavirus and to continue looking out for each other, particularly the most vulnerable, as we have done throughout the pandemic. He said:

“I want us to continue to be careful because positive cases in Devon are still rising. In fact at the moment we’ve got the highest rate of COVID-19 we’ve seen during the whole pandemic.

 “I strongly feel that it is up to all of us to carry on doing everything we can to continue keeping each other safe.

“Many people, particularly if they are Clinically Extremely Vulnerable, have dreaded the day legal restrictions lift for fear of catching coronavirus. I understand that you’re in a difficult position, and you may be feeling worried about the current situation.

“Although the legal restrictions have lifted, our responsibility to members of our family, friends and society has not changed.

“I urge everyone in Devon to choose to do the right thing and keep doing your bit to reduce the spread of coronavirus by respecting the personal space of those around you, wearing a face covering in crowded areas, getting tested regularly, having both doses of the vaccine and washing your hands properly.

“We have been good at looking out for each other and helping those in need, so we need to respect those of us who will still be feeling anxious and behave in ways that protect them and ourselves from the risk of coronavirus.”

You can read Steve Brown’s message in full on our News Centre.

Help protect the things we love. Get the jab.

Grab a jab and help protect the things we love

All adults are being urged to get their first and second doses of a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible to protect themselves and the people around them.

Vaccinated people are far less likely to get COVID-19 with symptoms and even more unlikely to get serious cases of COVID-19, be admitted to hospital, or to die from it. There is also growing evidence that they are less likely to pass the virus on to others.

People who have been vaccinated with both doses do not have to quarantine on their return to England from an amber list country (except France), providing they received their second jab at least 14 days prior. And from Monday 16 August, double-vaccinated people will also no longer be legally required to self-isolate if they are identified as a close contact of a positive COVID-19 case.

Every adult in the UK has been offered a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and are able to get their second doses after eight weeks, which means every adult has the chance to have both doses by mid-September.

Vaccines are available free of charge from thousands of vaccine centres, GP practices and pharmacies. Visit the NHS website to book your COVID-19 vaccination as soon as possible.

Or if you don’t want to book, you can pop along to any of the participating walk-in clinics for your first and second dose with no appointment needed. You can search clinics dates and times in the South West on the NHS website.

Go for the flow - make twice weekly rapid LFD testing part of your routine

COVID-19 testing is more important than ever

With rates of COVID-19 at the highest they’ve ever been in Devon, we’re reminding residents of the importance of regular testing to help keep everyone safe.

Testing, tracing close contacts and self-isolating is vital to managing the spread of coronavirus and reducing the risk of potentially dangerous variants spreading.

Some people might find it frustrating, or think it is pointless, but if you’re identified as a close contact of someone with COVID-19 you’re at least five times more likely to be infected than others. And even if you have been vaccinated you can still pass the virus on.

As more of us are out and about enjoying the freedom we’ve missed, we’re encouraging everyone in Devon to make regular symptom-free COVID-19 testing part of their everyday lives to help find cases that would otherwise go undetected and break the chains of transmission. Rapid lateral flow device (LFD) tests are readily available to do at home or at one of our many walk-in sites, and you’ll get your result within 30 minutes.

If you develop COVID-19 symptoms, you must stay at home and self-isolate, along with anyone you live with, and take a free PCR test to confirm whether or not you have the virus. If you test positive, you will still need to self-isolate regardless of your age or vaccination status. 

To find out more about how to access COVID-19 testing in Devon, whether you have symptoms or not, please visit our website.

make the right call

Ambulance service experiences busiest week in its history

South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) is urging people to use its service sensibly after experiencing its busiest week on record for the second time so far this month – responding to the equivalent of one incident every 26 seconds!

Ahead of what is expected to be a very busy school summer holiday period in the South West, SWASFT says it must continue to prioritise speaking to and treating the most seriously injured and unwell patients.

To allow it to prioritise patients effectively, the Trust is asking everyone who uses its service to do so sensibly. People should only call 999 in a genuine, life-threatening emergency.

People with non-life threatening but urgent medical problems should call 111 or visit the NHS 111 website.

NHS COVID pass

Demonstrate your COVID-19 vaccination status with the free NHS app

More than 10 million people are now using the free NHS app. Have you downloaded it yet?

It’s not the same as the NHS Test and Trace app. This one was launched before the pandemic in 2019 to give people a simple and secure way to access a range of NHS services on their smartphone or tablet – for example booking and managing appointments at their GP surgery, ordering repeat prescriptions and searching trusted information on hundreds of conditions and treatments.

And now you can also view and share your COVID Pass via the app to show your proof of vaccination, which will help you to travel abroad and start returning to workplaces.

The government will also work with organisations that operate large, crowded settings including nightclubs, to use the NHS COVID Pass as a condition of entry.

Please visit the NHS website to find out more about the app and download it.

NHS Thank You song

Local primary school pays tribute to NHS with a song

Year four children at Hazeldown Primary School in Teignmouth have written and performed a beautifully uplifting song to thank the NHS for everything they’ve done during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Kit Hardee, Assistant Headteacher at Hazeldown Primary School, worked on the song with the children. He said:

“At Hazeldown we pride ourselves on giving our pupils a real purpose for their learning. As part of their music topic in Year Four, the children had to cover the curriculum objectives of writing and performing music.

“We asked them to think about what was important to them and what impact they wanted their song to have. They all agreed that they wanted to thank NHS staff for what they’ve done during the pandemic.

“The children worked in groups to gather ideas for the lyrics and I worked alongside them to help the song take shape. It was then recorded and produced by local music producer, Dan Sheldon.

“The children have been incredibly inspired by the process and are so proud that their song is being enjoyed and celebrated by so many NHS workers!”

Well done to everyone involved, we think it’s brilliant – have a watch on the school’s YouTube channel.

Just think 111 first

Think 111 first and get the right treatment

The NHS in Devon is reminding people how to access health services and get the care they need this summer. The holiday season traditionally puts extra pressure on health services when more residents and visitors are outdoors enjoying everything Devon has to offer. 

For urgent advice people are encouraged to ‘Think 111 First’ and contact NHS 111 from anywhere, either by phone or online, any time of day or night. If you need further care or medication, NHS 111 advisors will direct you to the most appropriate service.

Local pharmacies can provide expert advice and a fast route to medication for minor ailments like aches and pains, colds, earache and skin rashes. They are open until late and at weekends with no need for an appointment. Visit the NHS website to find your nearest pharmacy and check opening times.

The HANDi app has been developed by paediatric consultants to give parents more confidence in dealing with minor conditions at home and help reduce the number of children and young people who visit A&E, but do not need treatment. It provides up-to-date advice for common childhood conditions and illnesses and how to treat them as well as information about when and how to ask for help. It’s free to download to your phone or tablet, just visit the NHS Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) website.

white and red blood cells

Almost 100% of people have antibodies after second vaccine

Recent data from Imperial College London highlights the importance of getting both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine for the best possible protection against infection as restrictions are eased.

Over 207,000 people took part in their study for COVID-19 antibodies between 12 and 25 May 2021, and almost 100 per cent of them tested positive for antibodies 14 or more days after their second dose of the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccine. 

Following one dose of either vaccine, the proportion of people testing positive for antibodies peaked at four to five weeks after first dose and then started to decline before rising substantially in those who had a second dose.

Visit the NHS website to get your COVID-19 vaccination as soon as possible.

credit card and laptop

Digital COVID-19 passport scam

Please beware of the latest coronavirus scam, which asks people for payment in exchange for a ‘coronavirus digital passport’.

The email claims to come from the NHS and says it will “allow you to travel safely and freely around the world without having to self-isolate” if you’ve had a COVID-19 vaccine or have recently recovered from the virus. It asks people to click a button to access their “digital passport” which then takes you to a fake NHS website asking for personal information and payment details.

If you receive this email please forward it to report@phishing.gov.uk    

If you have disclosed bank account details you should contact your bank immediately and notify Action Fraud.

empty exam hall

Views sought on new proposals for next year’s school exams 

The Department for Education (DfE) and Ofqual are asking students, parents and teachers what they think about new proposals for changes to assessments of GCSEs, AS and A levels which will be taken in summer 2022. 

The consultation proposes a range of measures to help mitigate the impact of disruption to students’ education.

Ofqual and the DfE are also running a consultation on arrangements for vocational, technical and other general qualifications.

Let's keep life moving

The latest national advice on coronavirus (COVID-19) is available on the
government website and NHS website.

You can find local guidance and information about the impacts on our services on the Devon County Council website.