Weekly Coronavirus Update – Stoke-on-Trent City Council 07/07/2021

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Stoke-on-Trent City Council, weekly Coronavirus Update, 7th July 2021:

Prime Minister’s announcement

This week, the Prime Minister has set out Government plans to lift the remaining Covid restrictions in England. Most legal restrictions and guidance in England should be removed from 19 July as we enter stage four of the roadmap out of lockdown. This will be confirmed on Monday, 12 July.

At a Downing Street briefing, Boris Johnson said the government was looking to “move away from legal restrictions” and would instead allow people “to make their own informed decisions about how to manage the virus”.

Covid cases are rising across the country and in the city, and are expected to continue to go up as restrictions ease. However, the Government says because of the vaccination programme, the link between infections and hospitalisations and deaths has been weakened.

Stage 4 of the Government’s roadmap summary:

At stage four, we will move from legal restrictions on our day-to-day lives, and people will be advised on how to manage the risks in order to protect themselves and others. Contingency measures will also be retained to respond to unexpected events, while accepting that further cases, hospitalisations and deaths will occur as the country learns to live with covid.

The following changes are set to come into place from Monday, 19 July:

Social distancing:

All remaining limits on social contact (currently 6 people or 2 households indoors, or 30 people outdoors) will be removed and there will be no more restrictions on how many people can meet in any setting, indoors or outdoors.

The only setting where social distancing will still be required will be ports of entry for passengers between disembarkation and border control.

Businesses

All settings will be able to open, including nightclubs. Large events, such as music concerts and sporting events can resume without any limits on attendance or social distancing requirements.

It will no longer be necessary for the Government to instruct people to work from home. Employers can start to plan a return to workplaces.

Regulations that place covid-secure requirements on businesses, including table service, and distancing between tables, will be lifted.

Employers will still have a legal duty to manage risks to those affected by their business. The way to do this is to carry out a health and safety risk assessment, including the risk of covid, and to take reasonable steps to mitigate the risks you identify.

Businesses must not require a self-isolating worker to come to work, and should make sure that workers and customers who feel unwell do not attend the setting.

Education settings

Bubbles are ending.

Life events

All restrictions on life events such as weddings, funerals, bar/bat mitzvahs and baptisms will be removed, including the remaining restrictions on the number of attendees. There will be no requirement for table service at life events, or restrictions on singing or dancing.

Face coverings

The legal requirements to wear a face covering will be lifted in all settings. You can still voluntarily wear a face covering as this will reduce your risk of catching covid and reduce the risk of spreading it to others, especially where you come into contact with people you don’t normally meet in enclosed and crowded spaces.

Advice

Although these restrictions are set to be lifted, please remember that the following actions will help to reduce your risk of catching and spreading covid:

  1. Meet in well-ventilated areas where possible, such as outdoors or indoors with windows open.
  2. Wearing a face covering where you come into contact with people you don’t normally meet in enclosed and crowded spaces.
  3. Washing your hands with soap and water or using hand sanitiser regularly throughout the day.
  4. Covering your nose and mouth when you cough and sneeze.
  5. Staying at home if unwell, to reduce the risk of passing on other illnesses onto friends, family, colleagues, and others in your community.
  6. Considering individual risks, such as clinical vulnerabilities and vaccination status.

For more information, please visit https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-response-summer-2021-roadmap/coronavirus-how-to-stay-safe-and-help-prevent-the-spread#lifting-restrictions


Self isolation guidance update

Fully vaccinated people in England will not have to self-isolate if a close contact tests positive for Covid from 16 August, the health secretary has confirmed. The same policy would also apply to anyone under the age of 18 from that date.

Read the full statement on self-isolation rules by going to https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/update-to-parliament-on-self-isolation-rules


Covid-19 cases rising in Stoke-on-Trent

The seven-day rate of coronavirus cases in the city is now 258.2 per 100,000 people, for the week 25 June – 1 July 2021. There continues to be a significant increase of cases in the city, increase of 68.9 per cent on the previous seven days. The percentage of people who have had a test and tested positive is 5.9 per cent. Cases are widespread across the city but hotspot areas are Hanley and Etruria.

Our cases are continuing to rise, which is expected as more people are out and about and travelling across the country. However, these rates do show that the pandemic is not over and the virus is still with us and highly infectious. The rate is currently around 731.5 per 100,000 people in Tamworth, which is not too far away from Stoke-on-Trent, and this high number reinforces that COVID-19 is still being transmitted.

The good news is that hospital admissions are low, showing that the vaccine roll out is effective, but it’s important that we remember that not everybody is fully vaccinated and is still at risk of becoming poorly.

We currently do not believe that “surge testing” will bring any benefit, but we are continuing to work closely with schools to help them communicate with students and families to reinforce the importance of following the guidance, taking up vaccines when offered and testing twice a week, as well as offering our pop-up testing centres.

We can all help to drive our rates down by continuing to follow the public health advice and to keep regularly testing ourselves. we need to keep in mind the public health advice and to keep getting tested for COVID-19 at least twice a week, and recording the results. The more tests we do, the more they will help to drive down our positivity rates and most importantly keep ourselves and others around us safe. You must also self-isolate if you receive a positive test result or are informed that you are a close contact of somebody who has tested positive.


Public health guidance and COVID-19 testing

Hands, Face, Space and Fresh Air these are simple measures we can take to help stop the spread of covid. Following these will also help to drive down the city’s case rates:

  • Hands – wash your hands regularly with warm water soap for at least 20 seconds (the amount of time it takes to sing ‘Happy Birthday’). You can also use hand sanitisers while you’re out and about.
  • Face – Wear a face covering in indoor public places, unless you are medically exempt.
  • Space – Keep at least a two-metre distance from people you are not meeting with – government guidance means that you can choose to have close contact with friends and family, but it’s important you distance yourselves from other people in public places.
  • Fresh Air – Meet up with others outside where you can or if you are inside, make sure the rooms are well ventilated, for example, open a window. Fresh air is known to lower the risk of transmitting COVID-19.

Covid is passed through close contact, so practising Hands, Face, Space and Fresh Air wherever you can – including in your own and other peoples’ homes – will help stop it from spreading.

Meeting up with others and going out

Government guidance means that currently:

  • You can meet indoors in a group of up to 6 people or a group of any size from 2 households.
  • You can meet outside in a group of up to 30 people
  • Work from home if you can and travel safely

If you’re going out to places such as the pub or shops, or you’re going for a day out and using public transport, and they look particularly crowded, please be cautious and make your own decision as to whether you feel safe or not. If you don’t, then leave. We all need to take personal responsibility.

Testing

Home testing kits

Everyone in England is now able to access two home LFT kits each week. They are free and there are various ways you can access them. The kits are quick to use from home, and give results in 30 minutes. One in three people with coronavirus don’t show symptoms, so the tests are really important in helping to quickly spot positive cases and squash any outbreaks. Testing twice a week should now be a normal part of our lives, even if you have had the vaccination you can still spread the virus, and there are still lots of people who have not yet had their jab.

It’s also really important that your test results are registered online or over the phone – whether your result is positive, negative or a void result. If testing at home, residents will need to register their results online or by calling 119. They should self-isolate if positive and order a confirmatory PCR test within 48 hours of a positive LFT.

Community Collect

Home testing kits are available to collect from a number of venues across the city. Our staff are trained and on hand to help you and they are available to answer any questions or concerns you may have and to talk you through how to use these tests. You can find out more details about the community collect venues which offer this via https://www.stoke.gov.uk/communitycollect

Pharmacy collection

You can also collect home testing kits from 58 pharmacies across the city. You can find out where you can collect them from via a map on the NHS website. Click here to find out more.

Ordering tests online

If you cannot collect a home test kit from a community testing site or pharmacy, you can order them online by clicking here.

If you have one of the three main symptoms then you are not eligible for lateral flow testing. You should instead book a test through https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test, or by calling 119.

Please also remember that confirmatory PCR tests for positive lateral flow tests have been reintroduced. It is really important that everyone has a confirmatory PCR test within 48 hours maximum of a positive lateral flow test (LFT) at our community venues.

Book a Covid-19 test

You will still be able to book tests at our community testing centres and there are still plenty of slots available. A full list of community locations and booking options and a range of locations, dates and times for the week ahead the are available on our website via www.stoke.gov.uk/bookacovid19test

PCR tests

If you are symptomatic or need a confirmatory PCR test for a positive lateral flow test, and are unable to book one using the national system, you can alternatively request PCR home delivery.

 If you require an urgent test you do have the option of a walk-up (unbooked) test at Fenton Manor Car Park or Synetics Solutions.

PCR tests are available in the city at SCFC, Fenton Manor Car Park and Synetics Solution and can be booked by going to Coronavirus (COVID-19) – NHS (www.nhs.uk) or by phoning 119.

It is important to self-isolate immediately when you start to feel unwell with covid-19 symptoms. 

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