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Somerset Covid-19 Update: 13.11.2020


National Update Nationally some higher tier areas have had greater restrictions for a longer period of time and have started to see a reduction in infection rates. There is room for optimism, but we need to wait another week or two to see the effect of the second lockdown.

At the same time as the second lockdown, legislation was revoked around the three tiers for England. That legislation has been reviewed and work will be done on which parts of the tiers were working. We may well come out of lockdown with a revised set of tiers, if that is the decision the Govt takes.

Developments in testing include rapid results within 30mins, which don’t have to go to a laboratory. Known as lateral flow tests, these have been widely used in Liverpool. However, any test will only give you information for the next 24 hours. A negative result gives only 24hours coverage as being negative but after that you cannot presume you are negative due to incubation of the virus. Use of rapid testing will require careful messaging alongside the test so that people understand the reality of a negative test and the short period of time for which it is definitely accurate.

Progress towards a vaccine - hope is on the horizon. Still some way to go yet, the effectiveness is proven but safety is being tested. We must have every check and balance in place, done thoroughly so that people can have confidence in the safety of a vaccine. Be assured that no short cuts are happening and the NHS are preparing for a vaccination programme in the future. There are a couple of different vaccines coming towards a decision on their licence, we could be in a different place at the beginning of 2021. It would take time to roll out the programme, and most people would take up to a month for immunity to develop after injection, that's time needed to develop the antibodies.

Students and returning home from University. Students will be tested, then travel, then self-isolate. Somerset will be receiver of students for Christmas, as we have no University. Some students will already have had the infection, and so may have some degree of immunity. The Somerset population is likely to be less exposed to the virus, so returning students may well be less of a risk. Comms need to be ready for end of lockdown and how we engage with students returning to their home environment.

Somerset Update For this second national lockdown, Somerset went in with lower infection rates. We should therefore come out lower, and from a preventative point of view that is a good thing especially as our rates were increasing rapidly in two weeks before Lockdown 2.

• 3,811 cases in total in Somerset so far. • This week the number is 97.8 per 100,000. • There are currently 41 open outbreaks or situations, 208 cases under surveillance, 252 cases closed. • We have seen three Covid deaths in the last week.

Overall trend is up in Somerset but different in the four Districts. Mendip is lowest, Sedgemoor has been over 100 per 100,000 but may be improving slightly, as is Somerset West & Taunton. South Somerset is being monitored carefully as increasing each week although overall numbers are considerably lower than in other parts of the country.

Most positive cases are in the urban areas and up along the coast towards North Somerset. Higher numbers are seen along the M5 corridor but Public Health have no ability to tie that to work or commuting patterns. Some people will live across a border from the place where they are registered with their GP.

R number for South West is 1.2 – 1.4. Rate for UK is 1 – 1.2. Rate for England is 1.1 – 1.2

Somerset still substantially better than the South West, and considerably better than nationally where it is around 250 per 100,000. Some areas are now coming down including north west of England. Other places are seeing numbers starting to plateau.

There are approx 12,000 pillar 2 (community) tests across the whole County per week, with fewer reports of people unable to access tests.

Somerset Public Health have sight of all positive cases in Somerset through the results of national tracking, then ability to follow that up with the local tracking services. They are constantly looking to break the chain of transmission, the outbreak management place is all about breaking the chain.

We will continue to see clusters of cases, Public Health have done a good job of squashing clusters but we must not be complacent.

Hospital admissions NHS is coping but it is incredibly tight. The message is that the NHS is open for business so don’t stay away. Key messages:

• Managing rising numbers of Covid-19 with more positive cases in Somerset NHS beds • The full range of emergency services is open and this is winter time so respiratory illnesses are increasing as they would each year. • The elective care programme is running, as it was not during the first lockdown. If you have a booked appointment, do attend unless you are notified by hospital. • Some infections have spread in Somerset hospitals, NHS is learning from it to keep hospital transmission to minimum.

Somerset Area Outbreak Plan Officers have been working with NHS acute colleagues planning for testing in case of a significant outbreak in Somerset.

Environmental Health officers are working across the four District Councils, they have been working with Public Health colleagues, meeting twice a week also with police.

Partnership working with Avon & Somerset Constabulary. Enforcement powers are with different authorities – no one authority can deal with breaches of Covid regulations alone. Police are working with District and County Councils, and the Councils are building stronger relationships with beat managers, local Inspectors and PCSOs. It’s notable that there are a lot more people on the streets than in first lockdown.

Covid Community Champions 25 people signed up so far, linking into communities. Provision for Champions so far includes webinar and training sessions provided digitally. This is about spreading messages at work, at home and in communities. Planning already in place for post lockdown communications. Covid survey has had good response and will give good information on residents’ concerns. Results will be published in mid December.

Vulnerable People & Community Resilience Cell Work continues uses the systems and processes set up during the first lockdown. Contacts have been made with vulnerable people by letters, emails, personal contacts.

Coronavirus helpline 0300 790 6275 - Open every day 8am to 6pm

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