The latest announcements from the UK government include the announcement that people in single-adult households may now form a ‘support bubble’ with one other household. This will mean that, from this weekend, adults living on their own, or with children under the age of 18, may choose one other household to have in their ‘bubble’. This will allow isolated adults to have the same interaction as they would if they were living in that other household. However, it is important to point out that the house they visit must not be part of any other support bubble – each household can only interact in this way with one single-adult household, and this must not include any people who are shielding. We are waiting for the full guidance regarding this. For now, you can see initial information on the government website.
As of Monday (15 June), all patients and visitors attending hospital for planned care (outpatients) must wear face coverings at all times. Face coverings are different to face masks and can be made at home. Useful information on how to make a face covering can be found here. If a patient of visitors does not have a face covering when they arrive at the hospital, they will be given one by the hospital on arrival. This aims to reduce risks of the virus spreading from people who are not showing coronavirus symptoms (asymptomatic) or are pre-symptomatic and will help to keep our hospitals safe. People will also notice that all staff will be wearing face masks, if not full personal protective equipment (PPE). Full guidance for this can be found on the government website here. Guidance for the use of face coverings in primary care settings (such as at GP practices) will be published soon and will then be shared as soon as possible.
From Monday 15 June, people will also be required to wear a face-covering when using public transport. This comes as many shops, zoos, safari parks and drive-in cinemas are all set to open from Monday 15 June. People are, however, being urged only to visit shops to buy, and not just to browse. Social distancing must be adhered to when leaving the house (except with anyone in your ‘support bubble’) and people must continue to frequently wash their hands. There is still a very real threat of a second peak of coronavirus cases if we do not keep up the good work that has been done across the country.
Although some schools and nurseries have been welcoming children back this week, the government has confirmed that this is no longer a required expectation. Schools can open to pupils in reception, year 1 and year 6 if they choose to. Otherwise, the plan is now to reinstate a plan for schools to ‘reopen’ in September. Pupils in years 10 and 12 will still be able to get support from tutors from Monday 15 June. It was also announced this week that teachers and pupils from up to 100 schools across the country will receive a voluntary test. This will be part of a new study which will monitor the prevalence of coronavirus among preschool, primary and secondary school pupils and teachers.
This easing of lockdown has been enabled by the launch of the NHS Test and Trace service, and we would like to reiterate that anyone contacted by NHS tracers must self-isolate for 14 days if tracers ask them to. This applies to everyone, and even if the person does not have symptoms themselves.
There has been a lot of focus on the protests taking place around the country, in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. The majority of protests within Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent have been peaceful and people have maintained social distancing. This is extremely important, given that we have this week seen the lowest recorded number of deaths nationally since before lockdown began on 23 March. The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, also confirmed that the ‘R’ number is still below 1 in all areas of the country at the moment, too, so we want to make sure that this does not rise and that local lockdowns do not have to be enforced.
Plans for how local lockdowns would look are being drawn up at the moment. We will share information when these plans are further developed, but the instruction from the government is clear and local lockdowns will come into place if coronavirus cases begin to rise again. It is, therefore, everyone’s job to play their part and help to contain the spread of the virus.
You will have seen that dental practices started to reopen this week. Anyone who needs an appointment should contact their practice by phone or email or go to NHS 111 online if they cannot contact the practice. Not all dental treatments will be available at the moment and people may be asked to visit a different practice for certain things. It is important to note that people should not visit their dentist unless they have agreed it with the practice beforehand. Anyone with coronavirus symptoms should not attend and should inform their practice if they need to cancel an appointment.
This week is diabetes week, with the focus being on the triumphs, setbacks, daily routines and unexpected turns that people may experience through diabetes. There is lots of information on the Diabetes UK website and you can follow the week via social media using the hashtags #DiabetesWeek and #TheBigPicture.
Finally, local health and care partners are working together to create a restoration and recovery plan. This plan will set out how we get health and care services back up and running, but also where we can ‘lock-in’ some of the great work that has come through due to the crisis. We will be working with local staff, patients and members of the public to develop this where possible and will share more information with everyone as soon as possible.
Across the Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent system the latest updates are:
- Local councils are reporting that no localised outbreaks have been identified so far, following the announcement of the test and trace programme
- Councils have also been working with local businesses to support them to reopen from 15th June
- Staffordshire County Council is implementing a five-year business recovery strategy to support the county’s economy following the coronavirus crisis
- North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare NHS Trust is running a survey asking about patients’ experiences of using the trust’s services during the coronavirus crisis
- Staffordshire Moorlands District Council has announced a Discretionary Grant Fund for small businesses that were not eligible for the Small Business Grand Fund or the Retail, Leisure and Hospitality Fund. Applications are open until 16 June
- Lichfield District Council has opened a discretionary fund to support small businesses
- Cannock Chase District Council has launched a £1m support fund to support businesses, particularly those with high property-related costs
- Stoke-on-Trent City Council is warning residents against fly-tipping, stating that the dumping of waste will not be tolerated. Local tips are now open
- Maintenance of council houses in Stoke-on-Trent is restarting. Stoke-on-Trent City Council has pointed out there will be a backlog of jobs to get through, but that people can call 01782 234100 for urgent work
- Staffordshire Police has warned that criminals are sending fake emails to residents pretending to be from governments departments, tricking them into revealing personal data
- Staffordshire County Council has launched the Staffordshire Start-up Programme which aims to support start-up businesses in the county
- Staffordshire Police have thanked protestors for keeping their protests civil and being mindful of the ongoing pandemic
Useful resources available:
- New stay alert materials, including messages on shopping, working, travelling and how to make your own face covering: https://coronavirusresources.phe.gov.uk/stayalert-to-stay-safe-/resources/additional-social-media/
- New NHS Test and Trace materials are available to use on the Public Health England Campaign Resource Centre: https://coronavirusresources.phe.gov.uk/Testand-Trace/resources/. This includes BSL, easy read and large print formats here: https://coronavirusresources.phe.gov.uk/Test-andTrace/resources/alternativeresources/
- Signposting materials with useful information on how people can contact their GP, order repeat prescriptions and manage wellbeing and existing conditions at home: https://coronavirusresources.phe.gov.uk/nhs-resources-facilities/resources/health-athome/
- Public Health England guide on how older adults can stay active at home during coronavirus to maintain strength and balance: https://www.twbstaffsandstoke.org.uk/publications/coronavirus/86-phe-active-athome-booklet-21-may/file
- Translated information leaflets for parents with new-borns during coronavirus: https://www.england.nhs.uk/coronavirus/publication/maternity-leaflets-translatedversions/
- Mental wellbeing whilst staying at home: https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mindmatters/coronavirus-covid-19-staying-at-home-tips/
- North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare NHS Trust mental health support and advice guide: https://combined.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/CombinedHealth-and-Wellbeing-Guidance-Final-Version.pdf
- Guidance on shielding: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-onshielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19/guidance-onshielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19#what-do-wemean-by-extremely-vulnerable
• Blood donation materials: https://www.nhsbt.nhs.uk/howyou-can-help/get-involved/download-digital-materials/ • Stay Alert To Stay Safe materials: https://coronavirusresources.phe.gov.uk/stay-alertto-stay-safe-/resources/ • Symptoms materials: https://coronavirusresources.phe.gov.uk/Symptoms/resources/ • Useful videos during coronavirus (including British Sign Language): https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC–BwSA7YoEdcV8Jtt2nLAQ
For the latest information on coronavirus, please visit the NHS and government websites.