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Covid19  Community Champions

Sunday 2nd May

COVID-19 INFORMATION – WEEKLY REPORT TO - 30th April 2021

General Local Area Summary: Northumberland County is showing a rise of infection for the first time since the start of April with an increase of 11 cases, 8 (73%) of which are in our local 4 northerly wards, the epicentre being Berwick (7 cases). Our 8 local wards show those increasing reds, Bamburgh, Longhoughton and Alnwick are back to zero.

It must be remembered that, following the easing of restrictions, an increase was to be expected and that is now, most certainly, showing in the above figures. We must also remember that, due to the vaccination roll out, the chances of serious illness or death are much reduced. The statistics for our own local area merely reflect the sheer increase in the volume of people now circulating within it. We have not seen these levels here since 26th February! To protect the community it's even more vital now that we all stick to the current regulations and avoid the more crowded locations.

Vaccination Programme: We now have absolute proof that this is the only way we may see a return to some sort of normality and maintain the progress of the "Road Map". Now the programme is moving rapidly down to the younger age groups, I would ask all those already vaccinated to encourage our younger residents to take up the offer at the earliest opportunity.

If you have neighbours or friends unable to access this information digitally, please pass it on.

Saturday 1st May

Extract from today's ZOE Covid Symptoms Study report. If you have had your first vaccine, it's important that you join this app and report frequently. Even more so now the figures are so much lower:-

According to the data, a small proportion of those who have been vaccinated still get infected. ZOE collected reports from 31 contributors who had an infection after two doses of the vaccine, and 87 who had an infection after one dose. The following approximate risk factors for infection based on one or two doses of the vaccination, and no doses, have been recorded using the latest ZOE data:

  • Current risk of COVID infection in unvaccinated: 1 in 45,000
  • Current risk of COVID infection after 1 vaccine dose: 1 in 100,000
  • Current risk of COVID infection after 2 vaccine doses : 1 in 150,000

There are some risk factors which affect the likelihood of being infected with COVID after vaccinations: such as a high BMI (over 30), diabetes, age and having already had an illness. As a comparison, other data shows the risk of having a false positive results from a lateral flow test is around 1 in 250

The ZOE COVID Study incidence figures (new symptomatic cases) are based on around one million weekly reporters and the proportion of newly symptomatic users who have received positive swab tests. The latest survey figures were based on data from 4,145 recent swab tests done between 10 April to 24 April 2021. The data excludes the lateral flow tests.

Tim Spector OBE, lead scientist on the ZOE COVID Study app and Professor of Genetic Epidemiology at King’s College London, comments on the latest data:

“Low incidence and high immunisation rates in the UK makes it currently difficult for COVID surveillance surveys to extrapolate infection data to the wider population. As a result, we’re assessing our methodology to make sure ZOE continues to produce accurate and reliable COVID data. It’s a great position to be in. Consistent low levels signal that we’re moving from a COVID pandemic to COVID becoming endemic in the UK, where we expect to see low levels in the population with the occasional outbreak. It’s very reassuring that low rates continue despite reopening gyms and outdoor areas in pubs and restaurants, and bodes well for further relaxation of restrictions in line w















Monday 26th April

COVID-19 INFORMATION – WEEKLY REPORT TO - 23rd April 2021

General Local Area Summary: Northumberland County is keeping on the downwards track with a 27.4% improvement this week. Our 8 local wards are still in the red with further cases showing up in our own ward of Bamburgh and Longhoughton but Alnwick is back to zero. The easing of restrictions appears to be showing in the figures, as expected, albeit not worryingly yet. The advice is to remain very cautious and alert, stick to the regulations in force and avoid places in our area you know will be overcrowded.

Vaccination Programme: The local PCN's report that first doses have now been offered to all the Cohort 1 – 9 candidates. They now say, if you are in those groups (over 50/vulnerable) and haven't yet had your jab yet, please contact your surgery to make an appointment. It's absolutely vital to ensure EVERYONE takes up the offer of vaccination, failure to do so puts us all at more risk.

If you have neighbours or friends unable to access this information digitally, please pass it on.

Wednesday 21st April

The nearest collection point is Boots in Seahouses)

Pharmacies now offering free, rapid COVID-19 tests

Yesterday (19 April), the government announced that nine in ten pharmacies across England are now distributing free rapid lateral flow tests for people to collect and use at home.

Rapid, regular testing is now available to everyone in England and the new ‘Pharmacy Collect’ service provides an additional route to regular testing for everyone.

The ‘Pharmacy Collect’ service is available to people aged over 18 without symptoms, who are able to visit a participating local pharmacy and collect a box of seven rapid tests to use twice a week at home. Regular testing continues to play a critical role in stopping the spread of the virus and breaking the chains of transmission.

The government also launched an online checker so people can find their nearest pharmacy offering free, rapid test kits.

Announcement:
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/9-in-10-pharmacies-now-offering-free-rapid-coronavirus-covid-19-tests

Online checker:
https://maps.test-and-trace.nhs.uk/

Sunday 18th April


COVID-19 INFORMATION – WEEKLY REPORT TO - 16th April 2021

General Local Area Summary: Northumberland County is keeping on the downwards track with a 24.4% improvement this week. Our 8 local wards are back in the red with further cases showing up in Berwick and Alnwick. The easing of restrictions this week has manifested itself, very obviously, with the caravan sites/ holiday lets full to capacity, throughout the area. This, naturally, raises the possibility of transmission considerably and we must remain very cautious if we want to see the “road map” stay on track. Follow the current advice and stay away from the tourist “hotspots”.

Vaccination Programme: The local PCN's report that first doses have now been offered to all the Cohort 1 – 9 candidates. They now say, if you are in those groups and haven't yet had your jab, please contact your surgery to make an appointment. Those in the 40 – 49 group will soon receive their invitation, please wait to be contacted, do not ring your Medical Practice.

If you have neighbours or friends unable to access this information digitally, please pass it on.


Friday 16th April


COVID-19 INFORMATION

The ZOE Covid Symptom Study is a very important part of gathering vital statistics for government, enabling them to make informed decisions that effect all of us. I urge everyone who has had their jabs to sign up and supply the simple answers they need from each of us. They have just published some of their latest findings, which are extremely interesting. The study group is very large and the positive cases reported among them shows:-

Unvaccinated - 2.1% odds of catching Covid - 1 in 1,000

1 dose received 0.47 - 1 in 5,000

2 doses received 0.16 - 1 in 15,000

If you needed proof, there it is. Get your first jab as soon as you're offered and make sure you take the second.


Sunday 11th April


COVID-19 INFORMATION – WEEKLY REPORT TO - 9th April 2021

General Local Area Summary: Northumberland County is keeping on the downwards track with an increasing 33.3% improvement. Only 3 wards in the entire County are showing above 5 cases with the highest (Seghill with Seaton Delaval) at 12. Our 8 local wards almost managed a complete zero when Alnwick finally got there only for one more to appear in Berwick North, our only red this week. The 6 central wards have been at zero now since 23rd March which is really good news. With the major relaxations tomorrow bringing, no doubt an influx of visitors to our area,we need to be extra vigilant and keep to the existing rules, follow the Hands, Face Space, Fresh Air guidelines, get your vaccination as soon as offered and stay as local as possible, limiting your journeys where at all possible and avoid the beauty “hotspots”. Please report any illegal or anti social behaviour you observe to the appropriate authority. NCC are doing their best to reduce the impact this coming summer but they need our help.

Vaccination Programme: The local PCN's are doing an amazing job and should reach the national target of all Cohort 1 – 9 first doses by 15thApril. The second dose programme is also well under way with sessions now being held on a Saturday. They have an excellent back up system to ensure no batches are wasted. I had a call yesterday, could I come immediately as they had some left over at the end of the clinic, I was there in 5 minutes! If that occurs please try and get there straight away to help the impressive flow.

If you have neighbours or friends unable to access this information digitally, please pass it on.


Thursday 8th April

COVID-19 INFORMATION - VACCINES - 1148am 8 April

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) advise that the benefits of prompt vaccination with the AstraZeneca vaccine far outweigh the risk of adverse events for individuals 30 years of age and over and those who have underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of severe COVID-19. The JCVI has also advised that it is preferable for adults aged under 30, without underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk of severe COVID-19, to be offered an alternative COVID-19 vaccine, if available.

The MHRA’s advice remains that the benefits of the vaccines against COVID-19 continue to outweigh any risks and that the public should continue to get their vaccine when invited to do so.

Announcement: https://www.gov.uk/.../uk-regulator-confirms-that-people...

MHRA statement: https://www.gov.uk/.../mhra-issues-new-advice-concluding...

JCVI statement: https://www.gov.uk/.../use-of-the-astrazeneca-covid-19...

COVID-19 INFORMATION - 1220pm 8 April

The latest figures are just in showing the case rates for the County in the 60+ age range as zero for the first time since last August. The 0-59 age range shows 8 cases. This absolutely underlines the efficacy of the vaccination programme and the vital importance of having your jab, when offered, for the sake of everybody.


Sunday 4th April

COVID-19 INFORMATION – WEEKLY REPORT TO - 2nd April 2021

General Local Area Summary: Northumberland County is keeping on the downwards track with a further 20.1% improvement. Lynemouth stays the ward with the highest cases but they're down from 21 to 10. The neighbouring authority, Scottish Borders, is also showing a promising trend. Our 8 local wards are, sadly, showing a red again – Alnwick - but that is with only 4 cases opposed to 1 last week. Berwick (North) finally managed to achieve zero on Wednesday and the other 6 have remained at zero for 9 consecutive days. These are the best figures we've seen since last September. To maintain this and keep the “road map” for easing in line with the proposed dates, we must all still keep to the existing rules, follow the Hands, Face Space, Fresh Air guidelines, get your vaccination as soon as offered and stay as local as possible, limiting your journeys where at all possible and avoid beauty “hotspots”.

Vaccination Programme: You will have noticed the decrease in numbers of first doses delivered nationally over the last week. This is as forecast and planned for, the objective being to complete the priority (1 – 9 Cohorts) jabs but, at the same time, ensuring all second doses are delivered within the 12 week window required. The vast increase in those second doses, over the same period, is proof that is actually happening as promised.

My midweek report, on communications I had with the Heads of Health and the CCG at County level, gave advice to those in the priority groups still waiting for their first jab. That advice remains the same, wait for your surgery to contact you to attend, which should be very soon, please do NOT ring them.

If you have neighbours or friends unable to access this information digitally, please pass it on.

Thursday 1st AprilCOVID-19 INFORMATION - VACCINATION PROGRAMME

Following the recent letters and publicity from Government, aimed at the 1 – 9 Cohorts (over 50s + vulnerables), some of you have managed to obtain appointments in Berwick etc. However, I've received many complaints that the NHS National Booking Service (NBS) seems badly flawed leaving many unable to book their jabs.

To clarify the position I wrote to Liz Morgan (NCC Director of Public Health). She replied that they are very well aware of the problem and still advocate waiting to be called by your PCN (Patient Care Network – a group of local GP practices working together). She also passed my concerns onto the CCG (NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group). Here is the relative extract from that reply:-

“The CCG is working with PCNs to understand the current number of patients remaining within cohorts 1-9 across the county and they will take steps to adjust deliveries of vaccine to those sites with the most patients waiting.”

Yesterday I received a further email from our local CCG Head of Planning and Operations which confirms that statement, I quote:-

“Our advice absolutely remains that General Practice will receive enough vaccine for everybody that wants to have one locally, and we would urge people to remain patient. Our PCN teams are working flat out to stand up clinics and fill them with patients in priority order. The CCG are also working with system colleagues to secure additional supply for our PCN sites in order that we can make even swifter progress vaccinating people locally.”

Best wishes,


Richard

Richard Hay

Head of Planning and Operations

COVID-19 Incident Management Lead

NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group

To summarise, if you are having trouble getting your appointment through the NBS, or don't wish/unable to travel, you will be contacted and a vaccination offered by your Medical Practice, please do NOT ring them. If you are in the 1 – 9 Cohort it would seem, from the efforts being made above, that will, hopefully, be within the target date of 15th April.

One last thing, the Vaccination Hubs are seeing a lot of “no shows”, making the system worse. If you have managed to obtain an appointment at Newcastle/Berwick then subsequently receive a call from the surgery and decide to stay local, you MUST cancel your NBS appointment as their systems are not conjoined.


Sunday 28th March


COVID-19 INFORMATION – WEEKLY REPORT TO - 26th March 2021

General Local Area Summary: Our first totally green week since last April, well done to everyone and to the amazing vaccine rollout, there can be absolutely no doubt anymore of the affect it's having. Northumberland County seems to have really turned the corner this week (a 47.1% worsening to a 39% improvement). The setback last week was due, I'm told, to an oubreak in a single school which was immediately closed. That appears to have done the trick with cases rapidly falling in that ward (Lynemouth). Our 8 local wards are showing only 10% of the County infection rate and have the lowest cases since almost the very start of the pandemic with only 1 in Alnwick and 1 in Berwick (North). The main concern of the County health department now is complacency. If you want to see the shops, hairdressers and hospitality open to plan, their simple message is keep sticking to the rules. We are certain to see a big upsurge in visitor numbers, after tomorrow, which makes that message even more important. Especially, try to avoid the tourist “hotspots”.

Vaccination Programme: There has been much concern over recent days about the continuation of the vaccine programme at a level to meet the government deadlines. I personally know several locals in the 60-64 bracket who have not yet been able to have their first dose. At our Covid Champions Zoom update meeting last Friday, I put that to our Public Health Registrar and asked him to supply me with a written response for you all, this is it:-

“Different PCNs (groups of GP practices) are at slightly different stages with vaccination as they don't all get the same supply at the same time. The Well up North PCN (https://www.northumberlandccg.nhs.uk/about-us/primary-care-networks/) which covers your area is working through groups 5 to 9 (those aged between 50 and 69 years). It is hoped that everyone aged 50 and over will have been offered a COVID-19 vaccination by mid-April 2021. The advice to people in these groups is to remain patient and wait to be contacted by their GP. The PCNs in Northumberland are working hard to get in touch with everyone and will be running vaccination clinics, including at weekends to ensure that they reach as many people as possible.”

Jon Lawler

Public Health Registrar

Adult Social Care, Children's Services and Public Health

Northumberland County Council 

Friday 26th March

  

How the rules will change on 29 March

On 22 March, the Government updated the national lockdown guidance to include a summary of changes to the rules in England from 29 March. 

From 29 March:

  • people will be able to meet outdoors either in a group of six (from any number of households), or in a group of any size from up to two households (each household can include existing support bubbles, if eligible)
  • people will be able to take part in formally organised outdoor sports with any number of people (outdoor sports venues and facilities will be able to reopen)
  • childcare and supervised activities will be allowed outdoors for all children
  • formally organised parent and child groups will be able to take place outdoors for up to fifteen attendees. Children under five will not be not counted in this number

From 1 April, those identified as clinically extremely vulnerable will no longer be advised to shield. However, they should continue to take extra precautions to protect themselves. It is important that they continue to keep the number of social interactions they have low and try to limit the amount of time they spend in settings where they are unable to maintain social distancing.

The link below to the ‘COVID-19 Response – Spring 2021’ contains further information on the roadmap out of lockdown in England.

Guidance: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/national-lockdown-stay-at-home

Roadmap: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-response-spring-2021

Sunday 21st March

COVID-19 INFORMATION - WEEKLY REPORT TO 19TH MARCH 2021

General Local Area Summary: Northumberland County's slow decrease in infections stopped on 14th and they have shown a steady increase daily since (7.7% improvement to a 47.1% worsening). There is a likelihood that the increase is due to the increased testing in the school population. Hopefully, this will bring cases down, long term, if they are contained before they spread. However, in our local 8 wards there's been a slight decrease and the situation appears, at present, to have flatlined. Bamburgh (our ward) has recorded zero cases for 6 out of the 7 days. Alnwick (3), the 3 Berwick wards (4) and Longhoughton (1) account for all the cases, the 3 central wards all being zero. The urgent message remains stay home/local, essential travel only, stay vigilant and follow all the regulations and guidance.

Vaccination Programme: The local surgeries are continuing work on the 16 – 64 at risk group and starting on the 60 – 64 year olds. This is the latest statement from Belford Medical Practice:-

“Anyone over the age of 50 is now eligible. Your choices are to go to a Main Vaccination site which can be booked online or you can ring 119 both of these options would have been in the letter that you received from NHS England and could get you seen quicker. If you want to wait for a local vaccination with the surgery then this could be several weeks and we ask that you do not contact the surgery as we will contact you as and when we have supplies. “

The very strong message from the NHS remains that it's vital that everyone who is eligible should have the vaccination, as soon as they're invited, to protect themselves, their families 

Friday 19th March

COVID-19 INFORMATION

I have just received the latest update briefing from NCC Health Department, copied below. It's quite long this week but contains a lot of useful information and advice so I recommend you go through it and select the points of special interest to your own situation. I also urge anyone who may still have any doubts about receiving their vaccination, to watch the Director, Liz Morgan's, video.

Listen to Liz – vaccine edition

Our Director of Public Health, Liz Morgan, is back again with another helpful ‘Listen to Liz’ video, this time around the vaccine.

Director of Public Health for Northumberland, Liz Morgan, talks about the #Covid19 vaccine

Listen with Liz video found here > https://nland.uk/listentoliz

In this video, Liz helps to clear up common questions and misconceptions about the vaccine, including:

What vaccines are being used in the UK

  • Vaccine safety
  • Who is currently getting vaccinated
  • How you’ll be offered the vaccine
  • Vaccine misconceptions
  • Vaccines and pregnancy
  • Vaccine and fertility
  • Will the vaccine work for COVID-19 variants?
  • Why we need to follow the rules even after we’ve been vaccinated.

After your COVID vaccination – ‘Your Actions Matter’

There is a new video that explains what to do after you’ve had your COVID-19 vaccination. The video covers a range of topics, such as: how long protection from the vaccine takes to kick in, returning for your second dose of the vaccine, the risk of spreading COVID even after vaccination, and following the rules after your vaccination (hands, face, space, let air in, clean surfaces).Your Actions Matter. If you’ve had, or are about to have, your #COVID19 vaccination – you must continue to follow the rules and observe social distancing.

More info here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-vaccination-what-to-expect-after-vaccination/what-to-expect-after-your-covid-19-vaccination

AstraZeneca vaccine safety

Following reports the AZ vaccine causes blood clotting, a statement was released

Elizabeth Morgan, Northumberland’s Director of Public Health and lead Director of Public Health for the COVID-19 Vaccination Programme in the North East said:

“There have been 37 reports of potentially serious blood clots out of the 17 million doses given to people across the EU – that’s actually a lower number of incidents than you’d expect to see in the population. The UK regulator (the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency), the European Medicines Evaluation Agency (the European regulator for medicines and vaccines) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) have all said there is no evidence that the vaccine causes blood clots and that they are confident the vaccine is safe. With that in mind, its difficult to understand why some EU countries have suspended its use. What people probably don’t know is that there is evidence that if you get COVID-19, you’re at higher risk of developing blood clots during infection, and those that do have an increased risk of dying so personally, I’ll be choosing to have the vaccine when its offered.

I want to reassure people that the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective and that all adverse effects are closely monitored through the same tried and tested process we use for other medicines. While I understand people might be worried, this vaccine is the best way of protecting yourself and your family from this awful virus, and to help us all look forward to a brighter future. If you are offered vaccination in the coming days I’d strongly urge you to take it – it is safe and effective.”

Rules on leaving home

We’re re-emphasising what you can and cannot do during this time. The ‘Stay-at-Home’ restriction is still in place, with some exceptions – the latest of which is to exercise or for recreation outdoors with one other person from outside your household. We also used this opportunity to encourage residents to take their rubbish home with them if they do go out.

You can now leave home for recreation & exercise outdoors with:

  • your household or support bubble or
  • one person from outside your household

It’s still important to stay 2m apart from anyone not in your household or support bubble. Make sure that you take your litter home.

Support / Childcare bubbles

The Government have provided new images and videos that explain what a support or childcare bubble is, how they should be used, and the rules around social contact for each type of bubble. For example:

Support bubbles are designed to help those who might be at more risk of isolation or in need of support during the pandemic.

Find out who can create a support bubble here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/making-a-support-bubble-with-another-household

Beat COVID North East Regional Campaign

This week, the Beat COVID NE campaign focused on Rachael Armstrong from Sunderland, one of the newest campaign stars. She reflects on the last year of her life and her struggles with long-term COVID.

Meet Rachael.
In April last year her life changed. Nearly one year on, the mum of three is still suffering from Long Covid.

She is sharing her experience as part of the #BeatCovidNE campaign to raise awareness of the potential long-lasting effects of Covid.
“This virus isn’t mild for everyone. It can be life-changing and it can happen to you or someone you love. I urge everyone to take this virus seriously.”

Read Rachael’s story over at https://beatcovidne.co.uk/covid-stories/rachael-armstrong/

Shielding advice for the clinically extremely vulnerable to stop from April

The Government announced this week that those who are clinically extremely vulnerable to COVID-19 will no longer be advised to shield from Thursday 1 April. This is because virus infection rates continue to fall.

People on the Shielded Patient List will receive letters from 18 March with updated guidance on steps people can take to reduce their risk.

Read the full announcement from Government here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/shielding-advice-for-the-clinically-extremely-vulnerable-to-stop-from-april

Sunday 14th March

COVID-19 INFORMATION – WEEKLY REPORT TO - 12th March 2021

General Local Area Summary: Northumberland County continues to show a decrease but, this week, at a dramatically slowing rate (37% to 7.7% improvement). However, in our local 8 wards the “reds” are back again. Bamburgh (our ward) has recorded just the 1 case for the last 6 days but Alnwick, yet again, is going up fast as is North Berwick. It's far too early for this to be caused by the return to school. It can only be due to people relaxing their observance of the regulations. Evidence of this is obvious, especially in our area, being a “desired” destination. Many individual and groups of motorbike riders are being seen (obviously not local), a vast increase of walkers on our beaches and even the odd suspicious campervan are appearing here, yet again. The “stay at home” law is still in force until, at least, 29th March so please continue to abide by it yourselves and report any activity you see that contravenes it.

Vaccination Programme: The local area programme for the 60 – 64 year old cohort is well under way. Those in the next priority group (55 – 59) are starting to receive their letters to book at the Newcastle hub if they wish. Due to the low delivery rate, over the last 2 weeks, the Surgery recommend you do that if you wish to get your dose quickly and it's possible. Delivery of the vaccine is forecast to almost double over the next week so, if you don't want, or are unable, to travel there, the Surgery will be in touch in due course, please be patient.

Could I please remind you that you do not need to call the Surgery, they will contact you as soon as they have supplies and can offer you an appointment. In case you missed it, on their FB page, I'm delighted to reproduce the letter they've received from the Secretary of State for Health – very well deserved.

The very strong message from the NHS remains that it's vital that everyone who can should have the vaccination to protect themselves and others and bring this to as near the end as we can

Stay safe everyone and get your jab!


Thursday 11th March

COVID-19 INFORMATION

We all want our "normal" lives back and to achieve that we know at least 80% of the UK population must be vaccinated (SAGE). This morning I attended a very comprehensive webinar/briefing concerning the spread of misinformation, around the vaccines, which puts that essential target at risk. Here is a screenshot of one of the presentation slides that gives everyone a very clear message. Please, for all our sakes, follow the advice - CHECK BEFORE YOU SHARE.

Sunday 7th March

COVID-19 INFORMATION – WEEKLY REPORT TO - 5th March 2021

General Local Area Summary: Northumberland County continues to show a decrease but, this week, at a dramatically increased rate (19.2% to 27.3% improvement). You will see from the NCC Dashboard that all but 4 wards in the county are now light blue. Bamburgh (our ward) has returned to zero along with Wooler, West and North Berwick. Alnwick is down to 2 and the other remaining 3 wards down to just 1. For the first time since September last year the 8 Wards are all in the green. This excellent result is due to the majority of people adhering to the strict lockdown regulation but also, now, the dramatic decrease is pointing to the efficacy of the vaccine programme. Please get your jab as soon as it's offered. All this effort could still easily be made meaningless if we become complacent and relax our behaviour too soon. We all want the Government to be able to stick to their “Road Map” dates. The next week or two, with the return to schools, will be absolutely critical. The infection rate is almost certain to rise again, by how much, depends on our behaviour. If we stick at it, hopefully, we can contain that rise enough to allow the restrictions to start easing on time.

Vaccination Programme: The local area programme for the 60 – 64 year old cohort is well under way. Those in the next priority group (55 – 59) are starting to receive their letters to book at the Newcastle hub if they wish. If you don't want, or are unable, to travel there, the Surgery will be in touch in due course.

Could I please remind you that you do not need to call the Surgery, they will contact you as soon as they have supplies and can offer you an appointment.

The very strong message from the NHS remains that it's vital that everyone who can should have the vaccination to protect themselves and others and bring this to as near the end as we can

Stay safe everyone and get your jab!


Sunday 28th February 

COVID-19 INFORMATION – WEEKLY REPORT TO 26TH FEBRUARY 2021

General Local Area Summary: Northumberland County continues to show a decrease at a slightly better rate (11.4% to 19.2% improvement). Bamburgh (our ward), having had a zero return for 8 consecutive days acquired a single case on the 21st which has now risen back to 3 giving us the highest % increase over the 7 day period. Over the 8 Wards, the rate continues to steadily decrease but it has slowed by almost half and the red boxes on the table are increasing in number. This is worrying, especially in our own ward. It has been reported that, since the announcement concerning the lifting of restrictions, the visitor numbers to Bamburgh have shown an alarming increase made very apparent by the long queues outside the various take away food outlets and the volume of people on the beach. These are obviously not people local to this area. We are extremely vulnerable here and at high risk, from this irresponsible behaviour. The “Stay at Home and stay local when out for permitted reasons” order remains the law until 29th March, at the very earliest. The advice (and plea!) from the County Health Department is to stay away from Tourist “hotspots” but it is feared that the likes of Bamburgh and Seahouses will be overrun with increasing numbers of visitors, especially over the Easter holiday period, second homes and holiday lets are already known to be in use. Please do your bit and avoid these areas where possible until the situation stabilises to safer levels.

Vaccination Programme: The local area programme for the 65 – 69 year olds & vulnerables cohort is well under way. Those in the next priority group (60 – 64) are starting to receive their letters to book at the Newcastle hub if they wish. If you don't want, or are unable, to travel there, the Surgery will be in touch in due course.

Could I please remind you that you do not need to call the Surgery, they will contact you as soon as they have supplies and can offer you an appointment.

The very strong message from the NHS remains that it's vital that everyone who can should have the vaccination to protect themselves and others and bring this to as near the end as we can

Stay safe everyone and get your jab!

Wednesday 24th February 

COVID-19 INFORMATION

Important for parents of school age children. This has just been released by Government:-

The Department for Education has also updated the following guidance to reflect the changes announced by the Prime Minister on the wider reopening of schools and colleges from 8 March:

Coronavirus recovery premium

Providing apprenticeships during the coronavirus outbreak

Assessment processes for selective schools admissions

Protective measures for holiday or after-school clubs and other out-of-school settings for children during the coronavirus outbreak

What parents and carers need to know about early years providers, schools and colleges

Parents and carers of children attending out-of-school settings during the coronavirus outbreak

DfE has also published a letter about the decision to lift restrictions on education from 8 March and on the asymptomatic testing programme and safety measures.

The Local Government Association is hosting a webinar on ‘Re-opening of schools: arrangements for March 2021’ at 2pm on 25 February.

Speakers include:

Gail Tolley, Strategic Director Children & Young People, Brent Council and Chair, ADCS Educational Achievement Committee

Phil Norrey, Chief Executive, Devon County Council

Professor Viv Bennett CBE, Chief Nurse and Director Maternity and Early Years, Public Health England

Julia Kinniburgh, Director General, Covid-19 Response and Schools Recovery, Department for Education

Announcement: https://www.gov.uk/.../new-education-recovery-package-for...

Guidance:

https://www.gov.uk/.../coronavirus-covid-19-catch-up...

https://www.gov.uk/.../coronavirus-covid-19...

https://www.gov.uk/.../coronavirus-covid-19-assessment...

https://www.gov.uk/.../protective-measures-for-holiday-or...

https://www.gov.uk/.../what-parents-and-carers-need-to...

https://www.gov.uk/.../guidance-for-parents-and-carers-of...

Correspondence: https://dfemedia.blog.gov.uk/2021/02/23/an-open-letter-from-education-secretary-gavin-williamson-to-parents-carers-and-guardians/?utm_source=24%20February%202021%20C19&utm_medium=Daily%20Email%20C19&utm_campaign=DfE%20C19


Tuesday 23rd February 

COVID-19 INFORMATION

Below is the MHCLG bulletin (22 Feb) concerning the Covid recovery "Road Map". The link to "Guidelines: Covid-19 Response Spring 2021" provides very clear and full information on every aspect of the plan. It also explains the scientific and socio-ecomic reasoning behind each stage. You will find the answer to most questions you may have in that document:-

Prime Minister sets out roadmap for easing coronavirus restrictions

Today (22 February), the Prime Minister gave a statement to Parliament on the roadmap for easing lockdown restrictions in England and published the ‘COVID-19 Response – Spring 2021’ roadmap.

This roadmap sets out how the Government will begin to lift restrictions in England from 8 March, starting with schools and colleges.

It outlines four steps for easing restrictions. Before taking each step, the Government will review the latest data on the impact of the previous step against the following four tests:

The vaccine deployment programme continues successfully.

Evidence shows vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalisations and deaths in those vaccinated.

Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations which would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS.

The Government’s assessment of the risks is not fundamentally changed by new Variants of Concern.

The four steps for easing restrictions are:

Step 1 – the priority is to ensure that all children and students return safely to face-to-face education in schools and colleges from 8 March.

Step 2 – which will be no earlier than 12 April, will see the opening of non-essential retail; personal care premises such as hairdressers and nail salons; and public buildings, including libraries and community centres.

Step 3 – which will be no earlier than 17 May, the Government will look to continue easing limits on seeing friends and family wherever possible, allowing people to decide on the appropriate level of risk for their circumstances.

Step 4 – which will take place no earlier than 21 June, the Government hopes to be in a position to remove all legal limits on social contact. Before Step 4 begins, the Government will complete a review of social distancing and other long-term measures that have been put in place to cut transmission.

The roadmap also confirms the Community Testing Programme is being extended until at least the end of June.

A new Community Collect model will be launching so that families, small businesses and the self-employed can take away rapid tests from some Government and council sites. People will also soon be able to have rapid lateral flow tests delivered straight to their home, allowing them to carry out tests when it is most convenient.

Oral statement: https://www.gov.uk/.../pm-statement-to-the-house-of...

Guidance: https://www.gov.uk/.../publ.../covid-19-response-spring-2021

Sunday 21st February 

COVID-19 INFORMATION – WEEKLY REPORT TO 19TH FEBRUARY 2021

General Local Area Summary: Northumberland County continues to show a decrease at a slower rate (21.3% to 11.4% improvement), this is to be expected as the overall figures fall. Bamburgh, for the very first time, has maintained a zero return for all 7 days. Over the 8 Wards, the rate of decrease is improving, with a big decrease in the 3 Berwick Wards. Longhoughton, however, has shown a jump from 1 to 7 cases. As that is on the southern border of our ward, it shows that it is still not time for complacency or relaxation concerning the current regulations.

Vaccination Programme: The local area programme has now started on the next priority cohort (65 – 69 year olds & vulnerables). Could I please remind you that you do not need to call the Surgery, they will contact you as soon as they have supplies and can offer you an appointment.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any worries, or particular questions, on any aspect of the current situation. I will do my level best to help. Stay safe everyone.

Thursday 18th February 

COVID-19 INFORMATION

A comment from our Practice Manager about the next phase of the vaccine roll out:-

"We will focus on the groups as stated in the government approach, however we realise that we do not have a mass vaccination centre in Northumberland so will be working on the both groups when we have vaccine available. We request that patients DON’T ring the surgery, we have over 700 patients in the next 2 cohorts, we will ring patients as and when we get vaccine deliveries. We thank everyone for their patience."

As you will see from the bulletin below, anyone not wishing to wait for the Surgery to contact them, may book online or by phone on 119. Bear in mind that the nearest mass vaccination hub is the Life Centre in Newcastle.

NHS offers vaccination to clinically vulnerable and people 65 to 69

Earlier this week, the Government announced the NHS is inviting the next cohort of people to be vaccinated. This includes those aged over 65 and other clinically vulnerable people aged between16 and 64 with underlying health conditions, who have not yet been vaccinated. Adult carers are also being invited to receive their vaccines.

Anyone unable to book online can call 119 free of charge, anytime between 7am and 11pm seven days a week.

Announcement:

NHS England » NHS offers COVID jab to clinically vulnerable and people 65 to 69

ENGLAND.NHS.UK

NHS England » NHS offers COVID jab to clinically vulnerable and people 65 to 69

Health and high quality care for all, now and 

Sunday 14th February 

COVID-19 INFORMATION – WEEKLY REPORT TO 12TH FEBRUARY 2021

General Local Area Summary: Northumberland County continues to show a decrease and at a better rate (8.7% to 21.3% improvement). Bamburgh is, thankfully, back to zero. Over the 8 Wards, the rate of decrease is also improving, with only Alnwick staying stubbornly in the red, albeit with only a slight increase in cases over the week. These figures show we are heading in the right direction, at last, but it's not yet time to relax our vigilance or adherence to the current regulations.

Vaccination Programme: The local area programme is now moving to the next priority cohort (65 – 69 year olds). Could I please remind you that you do not need to call the Surgery, they will contact you as soon as they have supplies and can offer you an appointment. Despite the Government announcement last week concerning anyone in the 1 – 4 cohorts who have not yet received their first vaccine, this still applies, please don't ring the surgery.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any worries, or particular questions, on any aspect of the current situation. I will do my level best to help. Stay safe everyone.

Friday 12th February

DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC HEALTH – COVID-19 BRIEFING – TARGETED COMMUNITY TESTING NOW LAUNCHED

Dated: Thursday 11 February 2021

Dear colleagues,

I am delighted to let you know that the Council is now able to offer targeted community testing to key workers at three sites across the county.

This targeted community testing is available to key workers who are unable to work from home during the pandemic and do not have access to testing through their employer.

Testing will be offered to:

  • Education or childcare settings including childminders, early years settings and nurseries.
  • Carers (including informal carers, paid carers and those working for voluntary organisations)
  • Small or local public or voluntary sector organisationse.g. food banks
  • Small businesses providing key services e.g. waste management, taxi firms, public transport, funeral directors.
  • Small businesses (less than 50 staff), sole traders or self-employed people
  • Medium-sized local businesses (generally businesses between 50 – 250 staff) unable to practically access institutional testing.

The tests are only available to eligible key workers who are not showing symptoms of Covid-19.

Testing sites are nowoperational atActive Northumberland leisure centres in Ashington, Alnwick and Hexham where Lateral Flow Tests (LFT) will be used delivering results within 30 minutes. Those being tested will then be informed of their result via either email or text by NHS Test and Trace - the tests must be pre-booked online – there are no walk-in slots.

Along with Test and Trace and the roll out of the vaccine, this testing programme will help identify hidden infections and is another tool that can be used to bring coronavirus back under control.

It is hoped that key workers who don’t have the option to work from home will take up this offer and do their bit to help protect their families, colleagues and the communities they work in.

Those eligible canbook a test online here.

Testing sites are open at:

  • Ashington Leisure Centre, Lintonville Terrace, Ashington, NE63 9JY
  • Willowburn Leisure Centre, Willowburn Avenue, Alnwick, NE66 2JH
  • Wentworth Leisure Centre, Wentworth Place, Hexham, NE46 3PD

The testing centres are open Monday through Friday, 9am to 5pm - evenings and weekend appointments will be added in the coming days.

Anyone testing positive must immediately isolate at home, along with any close contacts. The targeted testing will work alongside the national test and trace system and any positive tests will link to the NHS contact tracing system.

A negative test doesn’t of course mean that people should remove or replace the need to continue with hygiene and social distancing measures – remember, hands, face, spaceat all times - we all play a vital role in fighting this pandemic.


 

Friday 5th February 

COVID-19 INFORMATION – WEEKLY REPORT TO 5TH FEBRUARY 2021

General Local Area Summary: Northumberland County continues to show a decrease but it's slowed down considerably (31.9% to 8.7% improvement). After dropping daily back down to zero, Bamburgh is back to up 3, so shows no change. Norham & Islandshire, very worryingly, has more than doubled. Over the 8 Wards, the rate of decrease is also slowing down. This means the virus is still very active throughout our region, we must remain extremely vigilant and stay in our local area whenever we leave our homes for “permitted reasons” except for medical or other stated vital purposes.

Vaccination Programme: I'm pleased to be able to report that the local area programme is running according to plan. I received my jab, on schedule, last Friday. After around 12 hours I developed a sore upper arm, which seems to be the most common side effect, but it's eased already, no other problem. Could I please remind you that you do not need to call the Surgery, they will contact you as soon as they have supplies and can offer you an appointment.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any worries, or particular questions, on any aspect of the current situation. I will do my level best to help. Stay safe everyone.


Tuesday 2nd February 

COVID-19 INFORMATION

Yesterday (1st Feb), the Government updated the guidelines to the law on what you can and cannot do during lockdown. Some of it has been made a lot clearer than it was, eg what is legally defined as "your local area" when you leave home for a "permitted reason" such as essential shopping or exercise:-

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News

Sunday 2nd May. COVID-19 INFORMATION – WEEKLY REPORT TO - 30th April 2021. General Local Area Summary: Northumberland County is showing a rise of infection for the first time since the start of ...

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