Edition 36 – Wednesday 16 December
A change to the self-isolation period from 14 to 10 days has been announced. On Monday 14 December, the change to the isolation period for contacts will apply to all those who are currently self-isolating including those who commenced self-isolation before Monday. Self-isolation periods will begin on the day after exposure, a test or the start of symptoms. The NHS Test and Trace service will tell people to self-isolate for 10 days instead of 14 days from Monday.
Due to the time taken to test technical changes and release updates through the app store, the NHS Covid-19 app will only start to tell close contacts to isolate for 10 days instead of 14 days from Thursday 17 December. Those advised to isolate by the app before 17 December can leave isolation when their isolation countdown timer says, “3 days”.
Public Health England has issued a series of vaccination guides, including:
- guidance for healthcare practitioners
- guide for social care staff
- guidance on what to expect after vaccination
- guide for older adults
- information about eligibility and vaccine supplies
Edition 34 – Wednesday 3 December
From Wednesday 2 December, Hampshire is subject to Tier Two: High Covid-19 restrictions.
What has changed, and what has not?
Hospitality, retail and entertainment in Hampshire will now be allowed to operate, with non-essential shops, some bars and restaurants and personal care venues, such as hairdressers and barbers, opening again to the public, as well as gyms and some other sporting venues. Restrictions remain in place in these venues in order to keep people safe.
Socialising with anyone you do not live with, or who is not in your support bubble, indoors anywhere is not allowed. Socialising outside, including in private gardens or public spaces, is limited to no more than six people.
Hampshire County Council are keeping their advisory page updated with full details.
DHSC has updated guidance on how to protect care home residents and staff in line with the local restriction Tier system that will be in place in England from 2 December.
Children’s social care services guidance
DfE has updated the sections on support for foster families, access to respite care, short break services, restrictions on visitors in residential settings and mental health of looked-after children and care leavers. This is to reflect the new local restriction Tiers.
New film shows importance of ventilation to reduce spread of Covid-19
A new public information campaign has launched to highlight how letting fresh air into indoor spaces can reduce the risk of infection from Covid-19 by over 70%.
A short film created with scientists at Leeds University illustrates how coronavirus lingers in the air in spaces with no fresh air, increasing the risk of people breathing in infected particles, and how the risk can be reduced significantly by regularly ventilating enclosed areas.
Click here to view
The Cabinet Office has issued new guidance for the Christmas period. The guidance outlines what people can and cannot do throughout December and includes guidance on travel, events, shopping, visiting friends and relatives and going out to pubs and restaurants.
Retail Christmas opening hours
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has announced that retailers will be able to extend their daily opening hours from Monday to Saturday in the run up to Christmas and in January.
All care homes will automatically receive a provision of vitamin D for their residents, while individuals on the clinically extremely vulnerable list will receive a letter inviting them to opt in for a supply to be delivered directly to their homes. While research into the link between vitamin D and Covid-19 is ongoing, the advice from PHE is for everybody to take 10 micrograms (400 IU) of vitamin D a day between October and early March to keep bones and muscles healthy.
Edition 31 – Wednesday 4 November
Local Covid-19 data
Hampshire County Council has published the latest weekly Covid-19 data dashboard. The data shows a total number of cases in Hampshire of 10,712, with 1,582 cases confirmed in the last seven days, which is an increase of 240. The county’s current weekly case rate stands at 110.4 per 100,000 population. There have been 1,083 Covid-19 associated deaths in Hampshire since March, and four deaths in the last seven days.
Local Covid-19 data
Data shows a total number of cases in Hampshire of 5,923 and 201 cases confirmed in the last seven days, which is an increase of 94. Hampshire’s current weekly infection rate stands at 8.1 cases per 100,000 population, compared to the England weekly rate of 35.7. There have been 1,066 Covid-19 associated deaths in Hampshire since March, and 1 death in the last seven days. The full data dashboard is available on the Keep Hampshire Safe webpage. Data on Hampshire districts is also available.
Covid-19 Infection Survey
The Office for National Statistics has published data about the characteristics of people testing positive for Covid-19 from the Infection Survey.
Deaths from Covid-19: how are they counted and what do they show?
This article by The King’s Fund examines how deaths from Covid-19 are counted and what the numbers show to date.
As with deaths from other causes, deaths from Covid-19 are registered and recorded in official statistics. However, these processes take time and some delay in reporting the numbers is unavoidable. Being a new, potentially dangerous and highly infectious virus, monitoring its spread and impact on a daily basis is vital for containing and managing it. This means new ways of counting Covid-19 deaths had to be developed.
Covid-19 updates and guidance from Health and Safety Executive
HSE has published a range of Covid-19-related guidance and information, which you may find useful. It includes:
- Cleaning your workplace: How to clean your workplace to reduce risk from Covid-19
- Social distancing: Social distancing means keeping people apart to help reduce the spread of Covid-19
- First aid: Requirements in non-healthcare settings during the outbreak, as well as first aid cover and qualifications at this time.
DIY face masks
Take a look at the Big Community Sew website for full instructions on how to make your own face mask. For Sewing Bee fans amongst you, there is also a competition on there to make the best home made face-covering.
[They’ve laid down the gauntlet. I’m going to target Esme’s vote with a massive bow that covers my whole face.]
What to do with a confirmed Covid-19 case at work
Public Health England has created action cards that you can download or print and keep on hand so you know what actions to take should someone in your workplace or organisation develop Covid-19. Different action cards are available for different types of workplace.
Download action cards
Social distancing guidance for young people
In line with new Government guidelines, the advice on social distancing for young people has been updated. This guidance has been written in collaboration with young people in order to identify the key areas where other guidance may not be as clear. Click here to see the guidance in full
It’s now recommended that face coverings be worn in all enclosed public spaces where social distancing may be difficult and you come into contact with people you don’t normally meet. Currently face masks must be worn by law on public transport (and transport hubs), shops, banks & healthcare settings. From 8th August, face masks must also be worn by law at most other public venues including: funeral directors, cinemas, museums, hairdressers, social clubs, community centres.
The full guidelines can be seen here
Returning to work after lockdown
Our Head of Finance has attended a couple of helpful webinars.
Her key points are:
- Continue to work from home where possible.
- Every organisation needs to do a risk assessment before returning to work after lockdown, if possible the results should be published on their website, and the government ‘expects’ all organisations with over 50 employees to do so. Risk Assessments should include consultation with employees.
- Maintain 2 metres social distancing ‘where possible’ or put measures in place to minimise the transmission risk.
- Review/strengthen cleaning processes.
As part of the risk assessment, employers will need to consider the status of individual employees, and whether they or someone in their household is ‘clinically vulnerable’, ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’. This health data is a special category under GDPR, and will need to be managed accordingly.
- Some info from Paris Smith solictitors
- Some info from Crossley HR services
- Some info from Government
Update to the Covid-19 symptoms
The Government has announced new information about Covid-19 symptoms. From 18 May, all individuals should self-isolate if they develop a new continuous cough or fever or anosmia (a loss or changed sense of normal smell or taste). All members of their household must also self-isolate unless the symptomatic individual receives a negative test result.
Cases of Covid-19 in the workplace
Cases of Covid-19 in the workplace must be reported under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR).
This article details when you need to report an incidence of Covid-19 in the workplace and how to do this.
The government, in consultation with industry, has produced guidance to help ensure workplaces are as safe as possible during the Covid-19 pandemic. There are eight guides covering a range of different types of work. You may need to use more than one of these guides as you think through what you need to do to keep people safe.
Staying alert and safe (social distancing)
New social distancing guidance has been issued for the general public who are fit and well. People who are clinically vulnerable should continue to take particular care to minimise contact with others outside their household. Those who are clinically extremely vulnerable are advised to continue shielding measures to keep themselves safe.
Guidance has been issued on how to wear and make a cloth face covering – and advising people to consider wearing face coverings in enclosed public spaces such as shops, trains and buses to help reduce the spread of Covid-19. It is highlighted that face coverings are not a replacement for social distancing and regular handwashing.
Staying safe outside the home
The Government has published new guidance on staying safe outside the home. Instructions include: keeping a distance from others, maintaining good hygiene, continuing to work from home if possible, avoiding crowds and wearing a face covering in some situations.
Frequently asked questions
The Government has updated the Covid-19 outbreak FAQs on what you can and can’t do, to bring them in line with the latest announcements.
Antibody testing kits
Professor John Newton, national coordinator of the UK coronavirus testing programme, has warned against the purchase of unapproved antibody testing kits. Unapproved tests could be misleading, providing inaccurate or inconsistent results, potentially putting those tested and those around them at risk. So far, no reliable antibody test has been found. [So I guess that means “don’t buy antibody tests” – Ed]
Advice for social care providers
The Social Care Institute for Excellence has issued coronavirus advice for social care, including guides for those supporting autistic adults and adults with learning disabilities during the coronavirus pandemic.
Advice for care home staff
Public Health England has published guidance for care home staff on how to work safely during this period. The guidance includes information on the correct use of PPE.
Should I wear a face mask?
Hampshire’s Public Health experts have said that there is very little evidence of widespread benefit from the use of face masks outside of clinical or care settings, where they play a very important role.
Public Health England does not currently recommend masks for the general public because:
- they can be contaminated by other people’s coughs and sneezes or when putting them on or removing them
- frequent handwashing and social distancing are more effective
- they might offer a false sense of security (which could result in poorer compliance with other infection control measures)
To be effective, face masks must be worn correctly, changed frequently, removed properly, disposed of safely and used in combination with good universal hygiene behaviour.