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Somerset Covid-19 Briefing: 5th February 2021

Somerset Health Update

* We can see an improving picture in Somerset. In all the graphs, the lines are coming down. Rate at 1st February was 174 per 100,000, with more outbreaks in Somerset West & Taunton. Mendip was 137.6 per 100k but higher rates in the north of Mendip district where there are carehome outbreaks. * The alert level has reduced from Opal 4 (highest alert) to Opal 3 in both hospital trusts in Somerset, but outbreaks are still common across Somerset and there is a huge amount of work to be completed in moving people from hospital back to their home or care home. * The R rate for the south west at 29th January was 0.8 – 1.1 so the virus is still increasing. UK on the same date was 0.7 to 1.1. * A Government announcement is expected of a review of the Clinically Extremely Vulnerable list. 1.5million more names will be added to that list for the whole country. More information to follow. * As pressure reduces in hospitals its easier for the ambulance service and mutual aid across the NHS has stopped now, so no longer moving patients between areas. * Nightingale Hospital – approx. 25 patients from our acute settings have been transferred to Exeter. Now starting to be returned to Somerset. * Sadly the highest number of Somerset deaths in a week was 63 in the week to 22.1.21. Total 535 in Somerset so far. Deaths come weeks after infections and hospital admissions, there is a clear picture of how the disease progresses.

Testing and Vaccination

* Testing going well, with good take up. Increasing community testing including staff working with vulnerable people, just waiting for Government approval to extend the programme. * Vaccination numbers for Somerset should be on target for the first four priority groups to be completed by 15th February. * Approx 95% of over 80s have been vaccinated, now looking to get 70+ up to same level. 45,000 of health & care staff have also had their first vaccination. More than 100,000 jabs carried out so far. * Second doses have commenced and from middle March both first and second doses will be underway. The supply of vaccines will be under pressure for a couple of weeks. * National target for all over 50s is by end April but may be earlier dependent on second dose pressures and vaccine supply. There is negligible wastage of Pfizer and Oxford vaccines. * Somerset County Council contact centre is supporting community hubs and staff have made 7,000 vaccination appointments plus 3,000 health & care worker appointments. * Must be clear that vaccination is a NHS programme, local authorities are supporting the NHS. The Council needs a wider strategic look at how this can continue to September, looking at both Council workforces and the vaccination sites availability.

Public Health Messages

* Important public health message is that the success of the vaccination programme does not take away the need to comply with lockdown and hands/face/space. It takes time to develop immunity after both first and second dose. * There is early evidence that Oxford AZ vaccine may stop transmission of the virus as well as prevent illness, but early days for that.

Adult Social Care

* 70 outbreaks in Somerset care homes and also in community hospitals. Will probably take 8 – 10 weeks before Adult Social Care sees an improvement in the situation. * Lots more people are needing support, both through Somerset Direct and through other routes. Isolation is causing issues and social workers are really busy. * People are frail when they reach hospital as they have not been going out and so are less fit. That makes them more vulnerable for longer. Will take 12 – 18 months of support for some people to regain their independence. * SCC staff have been working to support carehomes that have had significant outbreaks by creating a bank of staff to move in where there is also staff sickness.


* In the West, there has been a total of 1,027 breaches of lockdown orders; 481 large gatherings; 600 police attendances; 1,200 fixed penalties. 10% of these figures have been in last 7 days.

Somerset's Local Authorities Coronavirus Helpline is open for help with food, housing or support with your mental health: 0300 790 6275 (open daily 8am-6pm)

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