Together we’re better weekly update.
This week the Department of Health and Social Care announced that a second Regional Testing Centre will open at Stafford Education and Enterprise Park, Beaconside. This announcement has been warmly welcomed locally, and will mean that local people experiencing symptoms can now book a test at this site, via the NHS website or by calling 119 if they do not have access to the internet. Staff from health, local authorities, police and fire can still choose to book a test at the other local satellite testing centre and should contact their organisations for information on how to book a test.
Of course, we now know that people may also use these Regional Testing Centres who have been contacted by tracers, after the launch of the NHS Test and Trace service last Thursday. Tracers are working to contact people who have been exposed to a person infected with coronavirus. If contacted and told to isolate, people must self-isolate for 14 days and only leave their homes to get a test. These measures must be followed even if the person does not have symptoms themselves. Household members do not need to isolate if the person does not have symptoms but must follow guidance on social distancing and handwashing and avoid contact in the home. Find out more information about the service here.
This comes into force as we are told that people may now meet in groups of up to six in private gardens, providing that people strictly adhere to 2 metre social distancing rules. People cannot meet indoors and may only enter other people’s houses to access gardens and to use the toilet. Regular handwashing should also be observed. It is worth noting that minimising contact with others is still the best way to keep yourselves and others safe.
To add to this, the government published new guidance for extremely vulnerable ‘shielded’ groups this week. The guidance can be found here and states that people who are shielding may now go outdoors with members of their households, or to meet one person from outside their household if they live alone, but must always stick to 2 metre social distancing rules.
This week, primary schools begun welcoming back children in reception, year 1 and year 6 and nurseries and other early year settings also began reopening. Previously, only children of key workers could attend school, whereas now any child within these age groups may return. However, it is up to the parents as to whether children will return.
Public Health England published a report this week, which looked at the differences in risks and outcomes of coronavirus on different groups. The report showed that people from Black and Minority Ethnic groups were most likely to be diagnosed with coronavirus and that death rates due to the virus were highest amongst these groups. The local health and care partnership is working to contact relevant local community groups to ask if there are any materials or further support they need to help people from Black and Minority Ethnic groups during the coronavirus crisis. We would urge anyone that needs information and/or materials to support these groups to email firstname.lastname@example.org with a request and we will try our best to help with this.
It is Volunteers Week this week and nationally people have been celebrating the hard work of volunteers across the country, using the hashtag #VolunteersWeek2020. The six Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) have released their latest podcast, focusing on volunteers. Please head over to the YouTube channel to listen to local volunteer Kelly Weatherer talk about why she took on volunteering to help people in her local community during the coronavirus crisis.
Aside from coronavirus, the main topic in the news this week has been the anti-racism protests in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. The local health and care partnership would like to assure all staff members from Black and Minority Ethnic groups that we support you and value and appreciate the work that you do every day to support the health and wellbeing of the people of Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent. Many protests have been taking place in America and even in the UK. Whilst everyone has the right to peacefully protest, we would like to remind everyone that coronavirus is still a very real threat and would therefore urge anyone thinking of protesting to keep protests to a peaceful level and to always adhere to national guidelines in place around social distancing and regular handwashing to help prevent the spread of the virus. This will help to keep you, your families, and our NHS safe.
Across the local health and care system the latest updates are:
- Staffordshire County Council is reporting a reduction in all deaths and COVID-19 deaths. Figures in Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire are now starting to plateau
- There have been reports of low water pressure. Councils are assuring people that there is no water shortage, but that people are using extra water due to the warm weather we have had recently and this is leading to water companies needing to treat far more water every day to try to keep up with demand. Councils have asked residents to not use hosepipes, sprinklers or refill paddling pools during hot weather Members of the public are urged to take litter home with them after visiting local parks
- All schools across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent are expected to reopen to all students in reception, year 1 and year 6 over the next two weeks, if they have not already reopened
- Councils are working with local markets to ensure that social distancing measures are in place and can be adhered to when they reopen (many have already reopened this week)
- Staffordshire Police reported that a number of gatherings took place over last weekend, which may increase the spread of the virus. Reports of irresponsible parking and littering have also come in at beauty sites this week. A dispersal order is in place across an area of Cannock Chase due to anti-social behaviour
- Chief Constable Gareth Morgan has reinforced the message that everyone has the right peacefully protest, but that this is a particular challenge due to social distancing measures put in place because of coronavirus
Partners thanked local key workers on social media using the hashtag #ThankYouThursday yesterday
Useful resources available:
• New NHS Test and Trace materials are available to use on the Public Health England Campaign Resource Centre: https://coronavirusresources.phe.gov.uk/Testand-Trace/resources/
• Signposting materials with useful information on how people can contact their GP, order repeat prescriptions and manage wellbeing and existing conditions at home: https://coronavirusresources.phe.gov.uk/nhs-resources-facilities/resources/health-athome/
• Public Health England guide on how older adults can stay active at home during coronavirus to maintain strength and balance: https://www.twbstaffsandstoke.org.uk/publications/coronavirus/86-phe-active-athome-booklet-21-may/file
• Translated information leaflets for parents with new-borns during coronavirus: https://www.england.nhs.uk/coronavirus/publication/maternity-leaflets-translatedversions/
• 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/CombinedHealth-and-Wellbeing-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/
• Stay Alert To Stay Safe materials: https://coronavirusresources.phe.gov.uk/stay-alertto-stay-safe-/resources/
• Symptoms materials: https://coronavirusresources.phe.gov.uk/Symptoms/resources/
• Useful videos during coronavirus (including British Sign Language): https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC–BwSA7YoEdcV8Jtt2nLAQ