Latest updates from Devon County Council

Thursday 9 July 2020

In this update:

  • Devon is prepared for local outbreaks
  • Enjoy summer safely advice
  • Support for shielding residents
  • NHS Help Us Help You survey
  • Find out what support is available
  • Testing facilities extended


Devon is prepared in the event of local outbreaks

Devon’s Director of Public Health, Dr Virginia Pearson, says the county is ‘in a good position’ if a local outbreak occurs, following sustained low numbers of positive COVID-19 cases and steady flow of quality data.

She made the comments at our Cabinet meeting earlier this week while discussing the Local Outbreak Management Plan with Councillors.

The plan is a blueprint which details how any future outbreaks of the virus in Devon would be managed and how its transmission would be contained.

Dr Pearson also chairs the COVID-19 Health Protection Board, a committee of specialists who can coordinate a swift response to an outbreak of the virus.

And our Leader, Cllr John Hart is chair of Team Devon, the Local Outbreak Engagement Board, which will monitor how the plan is implemented.

You can read more about the Local Outbreak Management Plan on our website.


Enjoy summer safely

The government is encouraging everyone to enjoy summer safely by following their advice and guidance to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.

This includes adhering to social distancing (2 metres where possible) keeping your hands clean, keeping interactions with those outside of your household or support bubble brief and wearing a face covering in enclosed spaces.

You should not leave home if you or anyone in you household or support bubble has coronavirus symptoms.

Get a free NHS test to check if you have the virus and self-isolate until you get your results.

Local businesses such as pubs, hotels and hairdressers have begun reopening their doors with strict measures in place to keep their customers and employees safe.

And to help people plan days out the government has launched the ‘Know Before You Go’ website to help everyone enjoy days out as safely as possible. It includes advice on what to do before you leave home, how to look after yourself and each other when you’re out and links to find out how different areas of the country are reopening.


Support for clinically vulnerable residents

The government’s offer of free basic food supplies and medicine deliveries for those clinically extremely vulnerable to coronavirus and advised to ‘shield’ at home will end on Friday 31 July.

This is because from Saturday 1 August, the government guidance will be relaxed so clinically extremely vulnerable people will no longer be advised to shield and can resume a more normal lifestyle, including visiting shops so long as they follow strict social distancing measures.

Priority access to supermarket delivery slots will continue, but if you haven’t registered on the government website yet you need to do it before 17 July.

NHS Volunteer Responders together with many charitable and local community groups will continue to offer support after 31 July.


Help Us Help You South West Survey

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many health and care services have needed to be delivered differently. You may, for example, have accessed the health service online or over the telephone.

The NHS would like to know what you think about these new ways of working to help them understand how they can best meet people’s needs in future.

If you have ten to fifteen minutes, please complete this survey, and share your views about your experience of accessing health services differently.

The information you provide will be used by health and care organisations and commissioners at NHS England and NHS Improvement in the South West to help understand what suits different people best in different parts of our region.

The survey is open until 31 July, 2020. A report with the results of the survey will be published on the NHS England and NHS Improvement South West website and shared with participating health and care organisations and those who provide their email addresses.


Find out what support is available to you

There is a free service to find out what help you can get from the government and other organisations.

You can find information about:

  • what to do if you’re feeling unsafe where you live, or if you’re worried about someone else
  • going into work
  • paying bills or being unemployed
  • getting food
  • having somewhere to live
  • mental health and wellbeing, including information for children

We also have a map and full list of the community support groups that we are aware of that have local initiatives to support those in need right now.


Testing facilities extended in England

The number of mobile testing units is set to rise from the current 146 units to 236 by the end of this month.

Councils can request mobile units in response to increased local demand.

They join a testing network that now includes 68 drive-through regional test sites in the UK, and six new walk-through local testing sites in Newcastle, Rochdale, Leeds, Brent, Newham and Slough, offering appointments to people without cars.

Home testing kits are also available, allowing people to test at home and post back via any of the 30,000 Royal Mail priority postboxes across the UK, which are marked by a regionalised NHS logo.  Check where your nearest priority postbox is.

“If you have a high temperature, a new continuous cough, or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste, you should book a test immediately,” said Dr Virginia Pearson, Devon’s Director of Public Health Devon and Chair of the new multi-agency COVID-19 Health Protection Board.

“Everyone with symptoms can book or order a free test at nhs.uk/coronavirus or by calling 119.

Essential workers and members of their households can access priority testing on GOV.UK.

“Anyone testing positive in England will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace, to help identify and trace people who they have been in contact with, to control the spread of the virus.”


New study looks at coronavirus in care home settings

There’s a new study, the Vivaldi 2 study, which aims to understand more about how coronavirus is spread within care homes.

It will take place in over 100 care homes in England, with swab tests (which test if the person currently has the virus) and blood tests (which test if the person has ever had it).

Residents and staff will only be asked to take part if they have given their consent.

The study is expected to take place over the course of 12 to 18 months.

It will help care homes, and local public health authorities, react quickly to outbreaks and provide reassurance to those living and working in them.

Whole care home testing has extended to all adult care homes.

All adult care home providers can access the Government’s online portal to register to receive test kits to carry out whole care home testing.


PPE in numbers

Two billion items of PPE have been delivered to the NHS and social care staff across England, since the start of this outbreak.

That includes 341 million masks, 313 million aprons, 4 million gowns, and 1.1 billion gloves…delivered to frontline workers.

Almost 28 billion items of PPE have been ordered overall from UK-based manufacturers and international partners, to provide a continuous supply in the coming months.

“This will help protect our hardworking NHS and care staff, allowing them to continue to save lives and provide high-quality care to those who need it,” says the Government.