Covid 19 - Current situation in Somerset as of 15.10.20
There is no LOW level for Covid 19 in
England, Somerset is in MEDIUM level. When a county or area is escalated from medium to high or very high level, it is long term and much more restrictive. It is absolutely essential that everyone plays their part and contributes to keeping us at the Medium level.
Numbers in Somerset
• Current number of positive tests in Somerset is 36.5 per 100,000 today. Other areas in England are up to 500 per 100,000, especially where there are universities.
• Somerset had doubling numbers every week in early October but the rate of increase is currently slowing slightly across the four districts. There is a pattern of increasing cases where Somerset borders Devon and BaNES/North Somerset.
• The greatest danger for Somerset is complacency. We see good compliance and care in formal settings e.g. work, education but there is much greater likelihood of people of all ages dropping their guard in social settings.
• Public Health in Somerset currently have records of 2,006 detected cases, and are tracking 16 open outbreaks in schools, care homes, workplaces.
• Hospital cases of Covid 19 are currently low. Somerset hospitals are managing transmission really well, all are open for business although busy.
• No Covid deaths in Somerset during the past week, none in our hospitals in recent weeks. Numbers of deaths are now slightly lower than the five year average.
• Household transmission is almost inevitable as there are two days of being infectious before symptoms show, therefore other household/family members are likely to become positive too.
• Transmission between people in younger age groups is increasing but it’s also increasing in 40/50/60 year age groups. The need to protect people above working age is obvious, as they are more likely to be vulnerable.
Education in Somerset
• Most school and further education cases in Somerset are single cases and are being managed well. Any school positives (pupils or staff) are reported nationally, then Somerset Public Health immediately informed. Risk assessments and tracking are then put in place.
• Public Health also support schools & colleges on their internal and external communications. In Somerset education 68 cases have been recorded (50% pupils and 50% staff) in 44 different settings, this includes suspected cases as well as positives.
• It is acknowledged that it is difficult for parents and schools to understand the difference between the common cold and Covid 19.
• University students - when at Uni students may still use their Somerset home address and show as a Somerset postive. Approx quarter of our figures of positives are students away at Uni.
• Not seeing transmission resulting from school transport but will continue to monitor and advise on wearing of face coverings which is not mandatory on school transport.
Partners in Somerset
• Environmental Health at District Councils & Police are working with Public Health effectively on messaging, particularly on weddings, funerals, venues, entertainment, hospitality.
• The ‘lost’ 16,000 cases nationally - we only had 41 in Somerset that were part of the data issue, and now rectified. Greater issue in other parts of the country.
• Moving into a particularly challenging winter, as less activity can take place outside. We can control the situation in Somerset, but we must all play out part. SPACE – FACE – HANDS
Covid Champions & Advisory Network for Somerset
• A new network is being set up to include key groups and organisations in local areas, leading to better understanding of local situations.
• Weekly communications will be released on behalf of the Somerset Covid 19 Engagement Board.
• Covid Champions – commissioned Spark Somerset & Somerset Activity & Sports Partnership to deliver the programme of recruitment. Local people will be recruited who can help with messaging, share up to date information to disseminate in their area including within vulnerable groups.
• Community leaders need to feed into the Advisory Network to help them tailor the message to Somerset generally and to more localised areas.
• Details of mental health services and helplines will be promoted, as well as physical health. Also help for social isolation as dark winter nights are coming.
• New updates are going to Parish & Town Councils on a weekly basis. The dashboard on SCC website is updated daily.
Local Outbreak Management Plan & Testing
• Posters will be sent out to Parishes with what is allowed in MEDIUM alert level area.
• Regional testing is at Taunton Racecourse. A mobile unit is at Frome Cricket Club. Planning is in place for additional testing for Bridgwater & Yeovil.
• Separate testing for essential workers has been set up.
• The testing situation generally is seen to be improving with regard to availability of tests.
• Somerset Public Health have stepped up to work on local contact tracing where cases have not been reached by national service. Intelligence is gathered on where people have been and is really helpful in a rural setting as people move between family, work, school, social settings.
• Intelligence has been gathered on approx. 90% of cases, this makes the difference in limiting outbreaks.
• Government payment of £500 for people on low incomes needing to self-isolate. It is a legal requirement to self-isolate if notified by national or local tracking services.
• It is essential to self-isolate when waiting for test results, that applies to the whole household.
• Coronavirus helpline is 8am – 6pm every day including weekends: 0300 790 6275