Thursday 30 July 2020 In this update:
- COVID-19 cases still very low in Devon
- Devon’s health visitors lead the way nationally
- Shielding pauses from 1 August
- Staying safe for Eid Al-Adha
- Local support to become healthier
- Under 3s should NOT wear face coverings
- Workplace action cards launched
Devon ranks among the lowest for COVID cases
With so much coverage in the national media about a potential second wave of coronavirus, we wanted to reassure you about our continued efforts in Devon to contain the virus. The number of COVID-19 cases in Devon is still very low, with no linked cases or community spread, and we want to keep it that way.
In fact, Devon's District Council areas account for four of the lowest five 'lower tier local authorities' in England, for confirmed coronavirus cases. They include Torridge, West Devon, South Hams and North Devon.Mid Devon, Teignbridge, East Devon and Exeter District and City Councils follow shortly after, making Devon one of the lowest ranking areas of the country for coronavirus cases.You can view the data, on the government's website.
Everyone has done well so far to comply with prevention measures and national guidance so it's vital that we all keep it up and to work together to help prevent a second peak by maintaining social distancing, regularly washing our hands and wearing face coverings in enclosed spaces.
Our Local Outbreak Management Plan for Devon was launched last month, and we are continuing to work closely with partners and with the very latest local data and intelligence to help monitor the situation very closely and respond rapidly if necessary.
We are actively planning for a range of possible scenarios including a potential outbreak in specific settings, ensuring robust plans are in place and testing these with partners. We are also encouraging prospective visitors to think about their stay in the South West and be respectful of local communities and the environment.
Devon’s health visitors lead the way nationally
The innovative way our health visitors have adapted to ensure that new parents in Devon continue to receive the support they need during the coronavirus pandemic has been recognised nationally.
With life severely restricted by the lockdown, and much of the face-to-face parts of our health visiting service suddenly impossible, they were quick to respond by making excellent use of digital technology to offer support virtually.
Parents were able to attend new birth video appointments, online specialist support groups for things like infant feeding and sleep clinics and access free videos our health visitors created on subjects such as starting solids, understanding your baby, play, transition to school and toilet training.
The new way of working is also proving vital for more vulnerable families.
Victoria Howard Devon Public Health Nursing Professional lead, explains:
"Usually if a new mother is struggling it would have been picked up by a number of community services, and that mother would often also have a support from their peer or family networks.
"Lockdown changed that. For a vulnerable mother, out of touch with family and friends, this presented a real risk and we had to adapt quickly.
"We have been able to develop a personalised face-to-face service, which helps us to pick up signs that a new mother or family is struggling, and they need help."
You can read the full story on our Newscentre.
Shielding pauses from Saturday 1 August
From this Saturday (1 August), the government's shielding programme will pause, unless the transmission of COVID-19 in the community starts to rise significantly. This means the support from the National Shielding Service, including free food parcels, medicine deliveries and care, will stop. Supermarket priority delivery slots will remain.
For the rest of us, easing the strictest lockdown has been a gradual process, and most people will now be relatively used to our new normality of social distancing and face coverings. But many residents who have been shielding, and haven't really left their homes since March, will probably be feeling a little uneasy about the end of this period.
Venturing back out and being around other people, for example at the shops, with face coverings and one-way systems, is a daunting prospect and the transition could be as difficult as the sudden lockdown was in March. And just as it took a while to adjust back then, it will take a while to adjust now as shielding lifts.
Take it at your own pace, share any concerns or anxieties with those closest to you and remember that the friends and neighbours that have helped you over the last few months are still your friends and neighbours even after the shielding ends and they are still there for you.
Since March, communities have rallied round, with volunteers helping those who have most needed help. Many of those charities, local groups and volunteers, are still there and still able to help. You can find a map of them on our website.
NHS Volunteer Responders will carry on delivering the groceries you buy and prescriptions if you need it. You can call them on 0808 196 3646 (8am to 8pm).
There is also support available to help people who are feeling anxious about leaving the house.
So, for those who have been shielding and are worried about venturing-forth from this weekend, please know that you are not alone and support is available. And for the rest of us now going about our slightly less restricted lives, please continue to look out for those we know who have been shielding - they may need your continued reassurance as they become as independent again as possible.
Enterprise Centre important part of our recovery
Construction work to build the Northern Devon Enterprise Centre near Barnstaple is continuing apace.
The building work is on target to be completed by the end of this year, and it will provide accommodation for dynamic, high growth and start-up businesses.
"The Enterprise Centre is one of many projects that will be playing an important part in ensuring that our local economy emerges stronger from the coronavirus pandemic," said Cllr Rufus Gilbert, responsible for Economy and Skills.
"New facilities for businesses such as the Northern Devon Enterprise Centre play an important role in the recovery of our region,” said Karl Tucker, Chair of the Heart of the South West LEP.
"Young people are going to find it toughest to get on the job market post COVID-19," says Cllr Frank Biederman, "so giving them the opportunity to be entrepreneurs and having the wrap around support is going to be a fantastic opportunity."
Staying safe for Eid Al-Adha
If you’re observing Eid Al-Adha at the end of this week, please remember that you need to do so safely in line with the government’s COVID-19 guidance.
Mosques began to reopen earlier this month, but check before visiting so you can find out what safety arrangements have been put in place, such as reducing the number of worshippers to allow for social distancing and logging your details for the NHS Test and Trace service.
There are also guidelines everyone needs to follow when outside the Mosque to ensure they stay safe, including only gathering indoors with members of up to two households or outdoors in groups of up to six people if you're from different households. And remember to keep your distance - no handshakes or hugs for family and friends outside or your household or support bubble.
It's also a good idea to limit the number of people you see over short periods of time to help protect yourself and others.
The Muslim Council of Britain has worked with the British Islamic Medical Association to produce advice on how you can celebrate Eid al-Adha safely and in accordance with public health guidance in England. You can download a copy on their website.
Public Health England also has some useful information on their website.
Safe worship guidance is available in multiple languages on the government's website.
To all those celebrating, please stay safe and Eid Mubarak
Government launches new Better Health campaign
More evidence suggests that being obese or excessively overweight puts people at greater risk of serious illness or death from COVID-19.
That doesn't mean people with excess weight are more likely to catch coronavirus, but if they do, they're more likely to become seriously ill from it than someone with a healthy body mass index.
So, the government has launched a new campaign targeting groups most affected by obesity, encouraging people to introduce changes that will help them work towards a healthier weight.
It includes a range of free tools and apps that everyone can use, to support people to eat better, drink less alcohol, and be more active.
It also includes a new app for the free 12-week NHS Weight Loss Plan.
Visit the NHS Better Health website for free tools and support to start leading a healthier lifestyle.
Your local support to become healthier
Here in Devon, there is help for everyone who wants to improve their health.
One Small Step Devon is a free service that gives support to people wanting to make lifestyle changes and improve their health. Their fully qualified Health Coaches will work with you to explore how important it is to you to make these changes. You will then agree an action plan and set some goals. The coaches can help people wanting to lose weight, stop smoking, reduce their alcohol consumption, and generally to be more active.
This support is available to anyone living in the Devon County Council area.
Under 3s should NOT wear face coverings
There have been reports that face masks for babies, also known as 'baby masks' or 'cute masks', are being sold in some parts of the country and online.
Parents and guardians of babies under three years old are advised by Devon, Somerset and Torbay Trading Standards not to cover their mouths with facemasks as it could cause breathing difficulties.
While there have been no reports of ‘baby masks’ being sold in Devon, parents and guardians are urged not to buy them.
Currently government guidance says that children under 11 do not need to wear face masks.
Public Health England has issued a warning that children under 3 years old should NOT wear face coverings or masks as they are potentially dangerous and can cause choking and suffocation.
Dr Virginia Pearson, Director of Public Health Devon, said:
“I would strongly advise parents and carers against using any sort of covering over a baby’s mouth. There's no scientific advice that they need to wear one and it could be dangerous in the event of a baby vomiting or posseting.”
Workplace action cards launched
Public Health England has produced a series of workplace action cards to provide instructions to businesses and organisations in England on what to do in the event of one or more confirmed cases of coronavirus in their organisation.
They are designed for quick reference, describing the steps to take to quickly identify, report and respond to any potential COVID-19 situations.
They've been developed to cover a range of businesses and organisations, including:
- Arts, heritage and cultural venues
- Cinemas, theatres, comedy venues and music venues
- Construction and outdoor work
- Dress fitters, tailors and fashion designers
- Hairdressing, barbershops, beauty and nail bars, makeup, and tattoo and spray tanning studios
- Manufacturing of food and other large processing plants
- Restaurants, pubs, bars, cafes or takeaways
- Shops and branches
- Spas, sports and massage therapy, wellbeing and holistic centres
You can find out more about workplace action cards, including when to use them and how they help fight the spread of coronavirus, on the government's website.
The workplace action cards can be downloaded from the Public Health England website.
Who can I meet up with?
With national guidance being updated regularly, it's easy perhaps to forget what the latest advice is. So, with hotter weather forecast for the weekend, here’s a reminder of who, where and how many people you can meet with, including going around to friends for a BBQ or meeting for a picnic somewhere.
Following social distancing and hygiene guidelines:
- Maximum groups of 6 people from different households outdoors - so you (as an individual) can meet up to 5 other people from different households in any outdoor space.
- Any number of people, but from only two households indoors or outdoors - your household can all meet with one other household in any location, public or private, indoors or outdoors. It doesn't have to be the same household every time.
- Overnight stays only with one other household - you (and your household) can stay overnight away from your home, but only with members of one other household. It doesn't have to be the same household every time.
- Support bubbles - if you're an adult living on your own or as a single parent, you can form an exclusive 'support bubble' with one other household. You effectively become 'one household' so can act as if you live together and don't have to socially distance. Once you've formed your support bubble, you can't change who is in it.
For other advice, there is a list of frequently asked questions about what you can and can’t do, which is being constantly updated online.
Eat Out to Help Out from Monday
Restaurants, bars, cafes and other eateries that are participating in a government promotion, will be offering discounts on food and drinks from Monday (3 August).
On Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays throughout August, those eateries that have registered will offer a 50 per cent reduction, to a maximum of £10 per person to all diners who eat and/or drink-in.
Customers do not need a voucher. A 'Find now' search is available online to help customers find participating eateries near them.
(Correction: In our story about this campaign on 17 July, we mistakenly used the word 'minimum' instead of 'maximum' in relation to the amount of discount available. Thank you to one of our readers for pointing it out!)
Research to investigate COVID-19 and ethnicity
Six new projects to improve our understanding of the links between COVID-19 and ethnicity have been funded by UK Research and Innovations, Medical Research Council and the national Institute for Health Research.
The projects seek to explain and mitigate the disproportionate death rate from COVID-19 among people from minority ethnic backgrounds, including health and social care workers.
Healthcare workers from ethnic minorities have been significantly over-represented amongst the deaths from the virus.
They will explore the impact of the virus specifically on migrant and refugee groups, working with ethnic minority communities to create targeted health messages. And they will introduce a new framework to ensure the representation of people from ethnic minority backgrounds in clinical trials testing new treatments and vaccines for COVID-19.