Together we’re better weekly update
Last weekend there was an outbreak of COVID-19 in the Normacot area of Stoke-on-Trent.
This was over a concentrated number of houses, over a small number of streets and a temporary testing unit was set up in the area straight away. A mobile testing unit returned to the area yesterday (Thursday 20 August), to give residents every opportunity to get a test if they hadn’t been able to last weekend. Stoke-on-Trent City Council is monitoring the situation closely and, although this is not a local lockdown, residents are being asked not to move from household-to-household in the area at this time.
We are pleased to say that residents of Normacot have been praised for their responsible and rapid response to the outbreak, with almost 400 tests carried out last weekend linked to the outbreak.
Burton has also seen a small increase in cases. As such, further testing was set up at St Chad’s Community Centre today and the area is being closely monitored, to ensure that every precaution is being taken to reduce the rise in cases.
Across the country, the national testing study is being expanded from testing 28,000 people per fortnight to 150,000 by October. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) COVID-19 infection survey will be expanded to 400,000 people in England, making it the UK’s largest study tracking the virus in the general population.
The expanded study will provide extensive, weekly data on the spread of infection, supporting rapid testing and diagnosis of COVID-19 both nationally and in areas of concern.
The ONS will prioritise ramping up of testing in the North West of England. Letters have already been sent out to tens of thousands of homes inviting new participants to take part in the survey and anyone who receives a letter asking them to participate in the study is encouraged to do so. Full details can be found on the gov.uk website.
Over 100,000 people have now volunteered to take part in the COVID-19 vaccine trials, helping to speed up effort to discover a safe and effective vaccine. The government is encouraging more people to sign up to the NHS COVID-19 Vaccine Research Registry, to help the NHS in the fight against the virus. To enable large-scale vaccine studies to take place across the UK, the aim is to get as many people as possible signed up by October.
Read more here and/or sign-up to take part in the trials here.
Although things are slowly beginning to go back to a ‘new normal’, some people appear to still be unwilling to attend, or nervous about attending, hospital and GP appointments. During the initial lockdown phase of COVID-19, locally we saw a worrying fall in the number of people attending our Emergency Departments for suspected strokes and heart attacks. This is slowly balancing out to a normal figure, but people are still not coming forward to their GPs early with worrying symptoms that may be linked to cancer. We are urging anyone that is worried about symptoms to contact their GP straight away. Although things might look a little different at the moment, the NHS is still very much here to look after you, so please do not delay seeking help.
Another important area is the upcoming flu season and this year will see the most comprehensive flu programme ever, with more people eligible for the free NHS vaccine which will start to be delivered next month. It is hoped that doubling the reach of the programme will mitigate the impact of COVID-19 this winter. People do not need to contact their GPs about arranging a flu vaccination. Instead, GPs will be contacting patients directly.
Please note that people in the 50 to 64-year-old age group will not be vaccinated until November and December, providing there is sufficient vaccine, and no appointments will be offered for this age group until then. This is to ensure that those who are most at risk are vaccinated first. Those aged 50 to 64 who are in one of the other groups which is eligible for the flu vaccination, for example those with a health condition which puts them at risk from flu, will be invited earlier.
As time goes on and normality appears to be resuming it is absolutely paramount that we do not become complacent. The number of cases in England is increasing slowly, so it is extremely important that people continue maintaining good handwashing, keeping at a safe distance from other people and wearing face coverings. These remain to still be the best ways to keep safe from a pandemic that is far from over.
Finally, Staffordshire County Council is inviting people to have their say on what the future priorities should be in Staffordshire after COVID-19, as life begins to go back to normal. The Staffordshire COVID-19 residents survey closes on 13 September and can be accessed here.
Useful resources available:
• Materials are available for the following campaigns:
− Stay Alert to Stay Safe – new youth focused ‘consequences’ social animations are now available on the campaign resource centre. ‘consequences’ social animations
− Stay Alert to Stay Safe posters: White background easy print for face coverings and distance
− Stay Alert to Stay Safe translated posters
− NHS Test and Trace posters: White background easy print for drive through testing and self-isolate
− Symptoms posters: White background easy print for taste and smell
• Wearing a face mask – translations (Arabic/French/Kurdish/Lithuanian/Pashto/ Polish/Portuguese/Romanian/Russian/Spanish/Tigrinya)
• Hospital mask and face covering guidance materials:
• Test and Trace materials are available to use on the Public Health England Campaign Resource Centre: https://coronavirusresources.phe.gov.uk/Test-and-Trace/resources/.
This includes BSL, easy read and large print formats here:
• Signposting materials with useful information on how people can contact their GP, order repeat prescriptions and manage wellbeing and existing conditions at home:
• Public Health England guide on how older adults can stay active at home during coronavirus to maintain strength and balance:
• Translated information leaflets for parents with new-borns during coronavirus:
• Mental wellbeing whilst staying at home: https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mindmatters/coronavirus-covid-19-staying-at-home-tips/
• North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare NHS Trust mental health support and advice guide: https://combined.nhs.uk/wp- content/uploads/2020/05/Combined-Health-andWellbeing-Guidance-Final-Version.pdf
• Guidance on shielding: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-onshielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19/guidance-onshielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19#what-do-wemean-by-extremely-vulnerable
• Blood donation materials: https://www.nhsbt.nhs.uk/how-you-can-help/getinvolved/download-digital-materials/
• Useful videos during coronavirus (including British Sign Language):
Public Health England has updated its coronavirus guidance in light of changes to the government’s advice and continue to ensure guidance for the public is timely and up to date. All guidance for members of the public, as well as for people in clinical and nonclinical settings, is published and updated regularly on the GOV.UK collection page.
Together We’re Better is the partnership of NHS and local government organisations, alongside independent and voluntary sector groups, that is working together to transform health and care services