COVID-19 case rates in Devon have continued to fall in the last reported week, and are now below the national average. Case numbers are highest in our 0 to 19 year old age group.
Government reveals COVID-19 Winter Plan
The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, this week outlined the government’s COVID-19 autumn and winter plan.
- coronavirus booster jabs to be offered to adults over 50 years old, younger adults with health conditions and frontline health and social care workers
- coronavirus vaccines are to be offered to young people aged 12 to 15
- NHS Test and Trace will continue their work to identify contacts of people who test positive
- free PCR tests will continue
- flu vaccine take-up will be encouraged for all over 50s
- and public health messages including the expectation to wear face coverings in crowded places, remain all important
But the Prime Minster also revealed a Plan B – additional measures that could be introduced if circumstances warrant it.
Those circumstances, built on data, would include the number of hospitalisations; how quickly any surge in case numbers happens; and the overall condition of the NHS, and its ability to cope, at that time. The Plan B toolbox includes:
- compulsory face coverings in some settings
- people asked to work from home
- vaccine passports could be introduced, requiring proof of vaccine take-up before being allowed entry to some venues.
You can read the government’s COVID-19 autumn and winter plan in full on their website.
Devon’s Director of Public Health warns that there are challenging times are ahead
“We can expect a challenging next few months into autumn and winter,” warned Steve Brown, Devon’s Director of Public Health, after the Prime Minister’s Winter Plan announcement.
“Coronavirus is still with us, and while case rates in Devon have fallen in recent weeks, they are likely to rise again,” he said.
“Clearly the health and care system nationally and locally is already under strain, and the additional winter pressures will only make the delivery of those services even more challenging.
“The Prime Minister refers in his plans to the role of local authorities in helping to curb any surge in case numbers.
“We have excellent data on coronavirus cases in the county. We are monitoring that carefully, and right now working really closely with schools and colleges following their return to the classroom last week.
“And we are prepared, should the data require it, to support the implementation of any additional measures we are required to put in place locally or at a county level, in order to halt any spread of coronavirus.
“In what shape or where those additional measures will be, will depend on the data, and whether any surge in cases is relatively localised or wider spread. More testing, self-isolating, and the wearing of face coverings – these are all measures that will be on the table should we need them.”
Knowing the risks helps us make better decisions
From socialising indoors or out, the messages are simple:
- if you need to meet indoors, let fresh air inside
- when you’re out and about, keep your distance
- reducing contact is still a key way to prevent catching or passing on the virus
- given the choice, try to meet outdoors as much as possible
Knowing the risks, helps us make better decisions. We can all make small changes that make a big difference.