Public Health Tiers Update 17.12.2020
This update is provided by the Covid Engagement Board at Somerset County Council
* Somerset is staying in Tier 2 but we are seeing worrying trends. We need to keep very close eye on infection rates and pressure on our health services.
* The Somerset rate is going back up quickly. The rate was reduced to 86 per 100,000 and levelled off. But it has now increased to 123 per 100,000.
* Excellent news for Bristol & North Somerset in moving from Tier 3 to 2 but we need to make sure that any increased movement from the areas north of us doesn’t impact on wider Somerset.
Update on new variant of virus
* Genotyping in labs shows how much the virus is changing, as is usual for viruses. This new variant has changed a reasonable amount and the protein on the outside of the virus has become more spikey. The more spikey it is the more sticky it is and the more it attaches, and so is easier to catch.
* The new variant doesn’t mean you get more poorly, just that it is more infectious. All recommendations on face, space, hands remain the same and are now more important than ever.
* This is not the news we want before Christmas but the message needs to be out there, that we have a deteriorating situation. Once the virus gets a hold in a community, the number of positive cases will rise exponentially.
* Covid is having a massive impact in Somerset. Our hospitals are full. Primary care is already struggling with number of people ill and winter emergencies are rising as well as Covid.
* Nightingale hospitals are like industrial ICU so not delivering the Ward based care we need in our hospitals.
* Vaccination programme is the good news. 8,000 doses will be done by Christmas in Somerset, both for at risk groups and key workers. Somerset is seeing good uptake but it's different in different communities, information is supplied in different languages.
* NHS is hoping for additional vaccines, but more time will still be needed for manufacturing, distribution, delivering the programmes. It is a very challenging programme, but commitment is there as a moral imperative. Social media should be taking down false information on vaccinations.
* Two mass vaccination sites are planned for Somerset, one in Taunton, one in mid Somerset area. NHS will confirm the destination for residents, please wait to be contacted. County Council and District Councils are contributing project managers, and admin staff to support the NHS.
* Inevitably that will affect some services at Councils, please be patient.
Christmas and social gatherings
* Please limit the number of people you come in contact with now, so that you reduce the risk to people you come into contact with at Christmas.
* How can you reduce the risk at Christmas? Choose the biggest house with biggest rooms. Keep distance, keep ventilation (windows) open, keep cleaning, keep washing hands. Be fastidious.
* An outbreak at GP surgery was tracked to staff making tea for each other, so the virus on the handles of the mugs. Don’t share boxes of chocolates/biscuits in the workplace. Be careful with vending machines too.
* We can each of us share the love and share the Covid. We can catch the virus from our family as easily as from a stranger.
* Reductions were seen in eg shoplifting during lockdowns but crime figures went back up during the summer, down again now but a marked increase in assaults against officers.
* Pressure is building on safeguarding referrals to social services.
* There is no easing of restrictions for New Year – police always plan for the worst, and New Year is nothing new, it’s always a pressured time of year. Staff and plans are in place, ready to deal with any pressure points across Somerset.