Together We’re Better COVID-19 Stakeholder Update
With more retail, leisure and hospitality venues now open, people are meeting outdoors again – which is great news and what we have all worked hard to achieve.
The number of people visiting shops increased by almost 200% last week in England, as non-essential shops were allowed to open their doors to customers for the first time since early January and COVID-19 restrictions were relaxed.
However, with the relaxation of the rules comes the increased risk of people spreading the virus without knowing it. As we know one in three people who have COVID-19 have no symptoms. Making regular testing a part of your weekly routine will play a huge part in making sure we continue to navigate our way out of lockdown in a safe manner.
To help make getting tested even easier, Staffordshire County Council is now moving many of its indoor pop-up testing sites to outdoor venues – especially popular spots with existing footfall. Chasewater Country Park, Cannock Chase Visitor Centre and a local car boot have been some of the new outdoor venues to host pop-up testing. Tutbury Castle, alongside various supermarkets and other outdoor locations will also see rapid testing available for the first time.
You should aim to get tested twice a week, even if you don’t have symptoms – make it part of a regular weekly routine. You get your results in under 30 minutes and can then enjoy the rest of your day with the peace of mind you are not putting yourself, friends or family in potential danger.
Getting your vaccination when offered it, getting tested twice a week (even after receiving both doses of the vaccine) and always following the rules of Hands, Face, Space, Fresh Air are the best ways to protect each other.
As well as getting a supervised test at the new outdoor pop-ups, kits can be collected at community sites, pharmacies and ordered online for home use. For a full list of upcoming testing sites in Staffordshire go to the Community Test Sites Appointment System page. For further information on all of the testing options available for people in Staffordshire visit: https://www.staffordshire.gov.uk/testing.
Community testing sites across Stoke-on-Trent can be found here. Stoke-on-Trent City Council are now offering community collect from 11 testing sites allowing you to test yourself regularly at home. Click here to find out more about community collect.
The government has also launched an online checker so people can find their nearest pharmacy offering free, rapid test kits.
People with COVID-19 symptoms should not attend and should self-isolate and book a test at www.nhs.uk/coronavirus or ring 119.
According to the latest government figures more than 10m people in the UK have received their second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. This means that more than 19% of UK adults are now fully vaccinated, while nearly 33m have had a first dose. This is a terrific milestone and those eligible to get the jab are urged take up the offer as soon as possible.
You can read more about the vaccination programme and catch up with our local vaccination statistics in this week’s COVID-19 vaccination bulletin.
Fresh data shows that COVID-19 deaths have dropped below those from road accidents in the UK. On Monday 19 April the UK recorded four deaths within 28 days of a positive test, the lowest daily figure since 7 September 2020.
A positive for this week is that Boris Johnson announced that an antiviral task force has been set up to search for simple treatments for COVID-19. The Prime Minister said that he ‘hoped pills or capsules could be available by the autumn to help fight an anticipated third wave’.
The aim would be to give them to people who have tested positive or exposed to someone who has. There aren’t any treatments available yet, but look how quickly the vaccines have been developed, approved and manufactured. Hopefully this will be ‘when’ rather than ‘if’ available and Mr Johnson said he had hopes that some medication would be available by this autumn. Effective antivirals for COVID-19 would not only save lives but also alleviate pressure off both primary and secondary care.
Nationally, rates have fallen to 26.9 cases per 100,000 and this downward trajectory is largely mirrored across the West Midlands at 26.2 per 100,000. In Staffordshire, the average case rate is below the regional and national average at 18.2 per 100,000 although there is still some variation across the county. Tamworth currently has the highest case rate at 35.2 per 100,000 and Cannock Chase has the lowest at 9.9 per 100,000. The figures for Stoke-on-Trent are higher than the national average but are slowly falling. Aligned with the reduction in case rates we continue to see sustained decrease in bed occupancy within our main hospital providers and an increase again this week in elective procedures.
The positive signs are there and we all hope that this will continue over the next few months. We would urge you all to take up the opportunity of getting the vaccine when offered, as it is our best chance to move forward. The take-up rate is incredibly high and we all hope this continues as more vaccines become available.
This includes within our local Muslim communities. During the holy month of Ramadan it’s important that observing Muslims will come forward for the vaccine when asked – whether that be a first or second dose. Understandably, concerns were raised over this across the country. The British Islamic Medical Association has confirmed that having the vaccine during the holy month of Ramadan does not invalidate the fast.
A study is beginning this month to see how the immune system copes the second time round. Healthy young people who have had COVID-19 are being asked to volunteer for a trial that will deliberately expose them to the virus. The ultimate aim is to design better treatments and vaccines. Up to 64 people aged 18-30 will spend 17 days in a quarantine unit at a hospital suite and have numerous tests, including lung scans.
This bulletin will now move to fortnightly. Therefore, the next update will be 10 May 2021. We will keep this under review.
Diabetes UK: Get Moving Programme
Free online physical activity classes for people living with diabetes are now available. You can try a different gentle activity each week in small online groups. You can also obtain diabetes information and support and get the chance to chat to other people living with diabetes. Follow this link to download a poster for further information.
Donate I.T. to help local people get connected
Staffordshire County Council is working with the Community Foundation for Staffordshire to provide recycled I.T. equipment to local people. There are still people in our communities who don’t have the I.T. equipment they need to learn, apply for jobs, access health services, and reduce loneliness.
Eight drop off points within libraries have been set up to help, where people can donate I.T. equipment they’re no longer using. Items needed are:
- laptop (with charger)
You can find out more and ask about the scheme at your local library or you can visit the web page www.staffordshire.gov.uk/DonateIT.
National survey from the Children’s Commissioner
On Monday 19 April, the Children’s Commissioner for England, Dame Rachel de Souza, launched ‘The Big Ask’ – a survey to gather the views of children in England on what the government should prioritise in planning the recovery from the pandemic.
Councils and schools are encouraged to promote this survey to as many students as possible. A range of materials have also been produced, including lesson plans and activity packs, to help teachers incorporate this into their lessons.
Parents, care leavers and those working with children are also invited to complete the adults’ survey to share their views about the future for children and young people today, and what they think is holding young people back. If you ask any questions about the survey, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Easy read resources:
- Covid Vaccine film (produced with Skills for People and Learning Disability England)
- Easy Read: Covid vaccination (PHE)
- Easy Read: What to expect after the vaccine? (PHE)
- Easy Read: Adult consent form (PHE)
- Easy Read: How to test yourself for Covid-19 before you go to hospital
- Easy Read: How to test yourself for Covid-19 at home
- NHS easy read Covid vaccination frequently answered questions