9th October 2020

Updates and Information from Devon County Council

“What’s happening in Exeter is not unexpected and has been planned for” says Dr Pearson

Dr Virginia Pearson, the Director of Public Health Devon, was asked this week whether Exeter is likely to be locked-down anytime soon.

She said, “Exeter has seen a recent sharp spike in cases, most of which are in the university student population. The outbreak is currently contained, and so Exeter is not in the territory for broad lockdown within the city at this time.”

She went on to say that what’s happening in Exeter was expected and has been planned for; and that what we’re seeing here is the same as elsewhere in universities across the country.

“The university has a comprehensive set of measures in place to reduce transmission among its students and staff population,” she said, “and their planning has enabled early visibility of the issue and enabled a swift response.”

We’re not near local lockdown yet

We grabbed a moment to talk to You can hear what he had to say on our Newscentre. Brown, the Deputy Director for Public Health Devon between his meetings.

He said:

“We are seeing cases in Devon rise generally as elsewhere in the country, but we are still lower than the national average for England though.

“In Exeter, the number of positive cases among the student population is going up significantly, but the number of cases among non-students are still fairly low, and is certainly below the England average.

“This gives us a high degree of confidence that we are not seeing significant spread from the student population to the non-student population in Exeter.”

Asked about a potential lockdown, Steve said:

“If we think about a ‘ladder’ of interventions, and lockdown of Exeter being the top rung on the ladder, we are no where near the top yet.  There are things that we can do in addition to the things that we are currently doing to help try to control that spread of the virus and hopefully avoid us getting towards the top rung of that ladder.”

Team Devon urges people not to be complacent

We are asked this week to make a renewed effort to follow the national guidance.

Cllr John Hart, the Chairman of the Team Devon Local Outbreak Engagement Board, said:

“Across the rest of Devon, we have been keeping levels of coronavirus low.  Cases are steady and that is largely as a result of the common sense of the people of this county.  And I want to commend them for that.

“But we cannot be complacent. So I would urge you all, please:

keep a safe distance from others, two metres is preferable
wash your hands regularly and thoroughly with soap and water and use hand sanitiser where it is provided
wear a face covering when you’re indoors in public spaces and on public transport.”

In the know about the numbers

Responding quickly to the pandemic is only possible with having the numbers.

The data is essential. Otherwise you’re in the dark.

We’re getting all of the latest data, compiled from a range of different sources linked to NHS Test and Trace, and that way we know how many new cases are appearing in the latest 7 day cycle.  We know where they are, and we can see the patterns.

The numbers mean that we and our partners can stay steps ahead of the spread in order to implement measures to halt it.

We publish the data. It’s all on our website, and it’s automatically updating as the latest national figures are published.

The overview is on our coronavirus home page, with more District level detail available from there.

Urgent economic recovery plan unveiled

Next week, Councillors will be discussing an urgent £6 million economic recovery programme for Devon.

It’s part of our response to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, which has had significant impact in tourism and hospitality, retail, construction and manufacturing.

The programme would help small and medium sized enterprises, employment and skills, the green recovery, and the hardest hit towns and communities.

Councillors will be asked to set aside £6 million over the next three years.  This is in addition to other bids for government support.

Do one thing this World Mental Health Day

It’s World Mental Health Day this Saturday (10 October). This year it comes at a time when our daily lives have changed considerably as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The NHS Every Mind Matters website  offers a range of resources that help spot the signs of common mental health concerns, practical self-care tips and guidance and, importantly, explains when to seek further support. It also has a free NHS-approved online tool called ‘Your Mind Plan’, to help people take simple steps to look after their mental health, improve their mental wellbeing and support others too.

Research shows that talking is good for your mental health, so that’s why the Mental Health Foundation is encouraging friends, family and colleagues come together for a virtual cup of team as part of their Tea & Talk campaign.

The mental health charity MIND has also written about why prioritising mental health has never been more important than it is now. They are encouraging people to take the opportunity to ‘do one thing’ this World Mental Health Day, and sharing your story so others see that they’re not alone in the challenges they’re facing.

We’re all living with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, and it can take its toll on our mental and emotional health, so if you’re feeling isolated, lonely, depressed or anxious, please know that you’re not alone; talk to someone you trust. Sharing a problem is often the first step to recovery.

Face coverings now compulsory on school transport

Pupils in Devon are being told they must wear face coverings when travelling on school transport to ensure that they all have as safe a journey as possible.

Since the start of term we have advised students aged 11 and over to wear a face covering when travelling on dedicated school transport, unless they are exempt. Unfortunately some haven’t followed the guidance.

So, with immediate effect, it will now be compulsory to wear a face covering when travelling on school transport, and from Monday 2 November it will become a condition of travel.

A “two strikes” policy will be in operation, which means that if a student is found not wearing a face covering by the school or transport operator on two occasions, and there is no record of them being exempt from using one, they will be refused travel for a period of time.

Those travelling on ‘Special Educational Needs’ (SEN) transport will not be included in this new policy, as the majority of children are exempt from wearing face coverings. However, those who can wear a face covering are encouraged to do so.

All secondary schools and colleges are being issued with our exemption cards which they will give to exempt students upon parental request. Failure to produce this exemption card when boarding school transport without a face covering could result in a warning and ultimately a refusal to allow the student onto the vehicle. SEN school students will not require an exemption card.

You can read the full story on our Newscentre.

Get your flu jab!

Flu spreads easily and you could have it without any symptoms. You might think it’s ‘just the flu’, but it kills on average 11,000 in England each year and hospitalises many more.

Adults at high risk from flu are also most at risk from coronavirus (COVID-19), and research suggests that the risk of death more than doubles for people who catch both.

So the the free flu vaccine is more important than ever to help protect people in Devon from a double threat this winter and ease pressure on the NHS.

People aged 65 and over, those with long-term health conditions and pregnant women will be offered the flu vaccine first through their GP or pharmacy, along with two and three-year-old children.

All primary school children and, for the first time, Year 7 children will be offered the flu ‘nasal spray’ in schools to reduce community transmission.

The flu vaccine will also be offered to household contacts of people on the NHS Shielded Patient List and all health and social care workers who have direct contact with the people they care for.

Once the most at-risk groups have had their free flu jab, the newly eligible 50 to 64 year olds will be invited to get theirs later in the season.

Could you donate plasma to help treat COVID-19?

The NHS needs people who have had coronavirus (COVID-19) to donate blood plasma to potentially help others.

Blood plasma is a yellowish liquid that makes up about half your blood volume. After a virus, your plasma contains antibodies that help fight infection.

A transfusion of plasma from someone who has recovered from coronavirus may help people who are still ill.

Trials are underway to understand the effectiveness of this treatment. Donated plasma is being stored so that if the trials show benefits to patients, there are stocks ready to use at hospitals around the country.

You can donate 28 days after you feel better, but you can register your interest in donating now.

Your body quickly replaces the antibodies and plasma you donate so you may be able to give regularly and potentially help more people.

You can register your interest on the NHS website here.

 

If you need information in another language or format please let us know by email via customer@devon.gov.uk or phone 0345 155 1015 or SMS text (text ‘Devon’ then your message to 80011)