Somerset Coronavirus Update: 8th January 2021
Covid-19 & Vaccination Programme • Viruses mutate – this is normal – the proteins on the outside of the new variant of the virus are more able to attach to cells in the body. The new strain is more infectious because it is spread more easily from person to person as more virus is in the breath of infected people. The more infectious strain is now in Somerset and this is what is driving the increased rate currently.
• The vaccination programme is an NHS led initiative and programme controlled centrally, not locally.
• The current forecast is that this lockdown will last until middle of February; this will depend on national performance of the vaccination roll out.
• Vaccinations are going into hospital hubs at Yeovil and Musgrove. 13 local vaccination centres have been set up. Two mass sites are being set up at locations within the county.
• A mobile unit is also being set up for those that cannot get to a centre.
• The Musgrove centre will be live from early next week.
• By the end of the month the vaccination delivery will be fully set up. Both vaccines are being used – patients are not told which vaccine they are getting and will not be able to choose.
• There will be approximately 20,000 doses a week once the system is up and running. Estimate is that 16,000 have been vaccinated so far.
• Volunteers are needed for various roles, Spark are organising the offers – go to www.sparksomerset.org.uk to volunteer. Thank you to all volunteers.
• A national booking service is being launched where people can log on or call to get the vaccine with some choice of where to go for vaccination.
Public Health - Somerset • Somerset local councils tried to encourage central government to put us into Tier 4 early because of the position of our hospitals as cases were rising rapidly. • Infection right now is 358/100,000 – there are some signs of levelling off. Slightly below South West average of 384; National average is 686. • It has become apparent that anything below Tier 4 does not prevent transmission with the new variant. • There is a concern that people starting to be more relaxed about the rules to keep safe. We need people to comply with rules more now than ever with this more contagious strain of the virus. We must make the lockdown count. • There have been increased deaths in the county – 356 deaths related to Covid in Somerset so far. It is anticipated that this will continue to rise for a couple of weeks. We do not yet know how well the lockdown is working; however we know that lockdown compliance is more effective now than in November, but less effective than March last year • All parts of Somerset have outbreaks, these pop up in different places, each is dealt with and then another outbreak pops up elsewhere.
Hospitals & Care Homes
• Hospitals in Someset are very busy and are looking at how to increase critical bed capacity.
• There was an increase in care home cases before Christmas but these are now going down. Smaller care homes have particular problems because of staffing needs. A rapid response team being set up to provide staff to support them in case of urgent need.
Somerset County Council Social Care & other Services • Adults and Children Social Care Services – home visits being reined back except for safeguarding issue or significant change in care needs. • Highways services are operating as usual. Planning will be different because of site visit protocols. Recycling centres are open. Libraries closed except four main ones for people’s network and click/collect. • All multi-agency cells have been stood up. (Care home support cell had never stood down.) Aiming to get all care homes vaccinated this week. • Support for vulnerable residents continuing. Free School Meals (FSM) support has been stood up. Developing scheme for those just outside the FSM threshold. • Schools support – There is awareness of the digital inclusion issue and devices should be coming out to schools to pass on to families, more details to come. • More council staff are isolating or on sick leave than during the first lockdown. Staff being reallocated to support vaccine roll out where appropriate, this has an impact on some Council services. Please be patient.