Skip to content Skip to left sidebar Skip to footer

Covid-19

Director of Public Health urges those with Covid-19 symptoms to book PCR test

Somerset residents are being reminded that they need to book a PCR test if they are showing symptoms of Covid-19, or have tested positive using a ‘lateral flow’ (rapid) test kit.

While the ‘lateral flow’ tests are a useful screening tool, the PCR test is considered the ‘Gold Standard’ and should be taken by anyone who is displaying symptoms of Covid-19, including a high temperature, a new, continuous cough, or a loss or change to their sense of smell.

Also, if anyone takes a ‘lateral flow’ test at home and gets a positive result, they should book a further PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test at a local Covid testing site to confirm the result.

Trudi Grant, Director of Public Health for Somerset County Council, said: “It is really important to understand the difference between the ‘lateral flow’ tests and the PCR test.

“The ‘lateral flow’ tests are only to be used by those displaying no symptoms. While they are a valuable guide, they should not be relied upon alone. Taking a PCR test will provide confirmation of the result.

“So, if you are displaying symptoms or have tested positive using a ‘lateral flow’ test, please book a PCR test. As society starts to open up again, everyone needs to play their part to keep the virus under control and this involves testing.”

You can book or request a PCR test online or by calling 119.

The ‘lateral flow’ tests for those displaying no symptoms are available via the Universal Testing Offer. Please also remember to log any positive or negative result following a ‘lateral flow’ test taken at home.

Trudi added: “The main form of defence against catching and spreading Covid-19 is still ‘hands, face, space and fresh air’ – remember to wash your hands regularly, try not to touch your face unless you have clean hands, wear a face covering if you can and keep your distance from others. And, even if vaccinated, it’s still important you take part in twice-weekly LFT testing and ensure you take a PCR test if you are symptomatic.”

Somerset latest Covid 19 figures and guidance

Somerset’s seven-day infection rate has decreased from last week’s rate of 49.3 and now stands at 38.8 new cases per 100,000 (11th March 2021).

In the latest week, approximately 55,000 tests were carried out across the county and there have been 218 new confirmed cases.
The link below shows the Somerset Dashboard which tracks our local epidemic from the start in March, to the current time:
https://www.somerset.gov.uk/covid-19-dashboard/

Workplaces: All businesses in England are now able to sign up to the Government’s free Covid-19 workplace testing programme, including those with fewer than 50 employees (this was previously restricted to 50 or more employees).
Businesses can register to order tests if the business is registered in England and its employees cannot work from home. Businesses must register on or before 31 March 2021 to get the forms they will need to order free lateral flow tests to test employees in the workplace here. Guidance for employers running testing programmes can be found here.
We continue to see outbreaks occurring as people socialise in and around the workplace (where people cannot work from home) and unfortunately, are still seeing a number of outbreaks in the food sector. We are continuing to provide these settings with Public Health advice, support and guidance on prevention measures.

However, it is not just the food sector where transmission is occurring between colleagues. While we may be conscious of the need to socially distance, wear a mask etc when at work in formal settings, it is easy to relax and forget these measures in the company of colleagues in a staff room and inadvertently pass on the virus to them. We have produced a number of graphics showing this scenario that have been shared with businesses and will be re-shared on our social media channels in the coming weeks, to reinforce the importance of keeping up infection control measures even in informal settings such as lunch breaks.

Some common factors being seen across settings that are experiencing outbreaks include people car-sharing. Please help us to spread the message that currently, car sharing is not permitted with anyone from outside your household or support bubble unless your journey is undertaken for an exempt reason such as work. Where it is essential to car share, you can reduce the risk of transmission by:

• sharing the transport with the same people each time
• minimising the group size at any one time
• opening windows for ventilation
• travelling side by side or behind other people, rather than facing them, where seating arrangements allow
• facing away from each other
• considering seating arrangements to maximise distance between people in the vehicle
• cleaning your car between journeys using standard cleaning products – make sure you clean door handles and other areas that people may touch
• asking the driver and passengers to wear a face covering

For more information on car sharing visit: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-safer-travel-guidance-for-passengers#car-sharing

Call for people aged 70 and over to contact NHS for Covid jab

People aged 70 and over who have not yet been vaccinated against Covid and who would like to be are today being asked to contact the NHS to arrange a jab.

Until now the NHS has asked people to wait until they are contacted to help ensure that those who are most vulnerable are protected first – and that remains the case for most people.

However, to ensure absolutely everyone is offered the vaccine, people aged 70 and over can now contact the NHS so they can be vaccinated by the middle of this month.

The easiest way to arrange a vaccination is through the national booking service which can be accessed at www.nhs.uk/covid-vaccination.

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

If a suitable and convenient slot is not available people can also call their GP practice.

Access to Vaccination Sites

As part of Somerset County Council’s support of the wider Covid-19 vaccination programme, consideration has been given to assisting access to vaccination appointments. As a result, the following measures have been implemented, with effect from 1st February 2021:

 Concessionary Fares

  • The 09.30am start time for the acceptance of Concessionary bus passes on all local bus services in Somerset has been temporarily removed. Bus operators have all been contacted and have made the necessary changes to ticket machines, so no pass holder will be charged a fare if they travel before 09.30 am. This is a temporary measure and will be reviewed as the vaccination programme continues to roll out. Once this dispensation is no longer required then the restrictions will be reinstated.
  • For Community Transport and Slinky Demand Responsive Transport (DRT) Services where Concessionary Bus Pass holders do not get free travel but instead have to pay half fares, operators of these services across Somerset have agreed that if someone makes a booking, and when asked the journey purpose they state they are attending a Covid-19 vaccination they will be offered free travel. All passengers are asked the purpose of their journey at the point of booking, so this should be able to ensure that those being vaccinated benefit from free travel.

Additional Bus Service

Bath & West Showground – a half hourly service operated by First West of England from 08:00 to 20:00 from Wells Bus Station via Shepton Mallet terminating at the showground has been implemented temporarily. This will operate seven days a week providing connections to/from other bus services at both Wells Bus Station and Shepton Mallet Cenotaph (bus interchange). Concessionary pass holders will have free travel and fare payers will pay normal fares. The operator will claim back costs for this additional service through the Covid Bus Services Support Grant (CBSSG) scheme, so there will be no cost to SCC.

Two key pieces of information for passengers travelling are:

  • Passengers must take their appointment letters with them.
  • Passengers should aim to use the timetabled journey which arrives at the Bath & West Showground as close to their appointment time as possible to avoid waiting time on site.

We are working closely with the NHS and partners to consider the need for a shuttle service to the Racecourse. At this time the site management do not believe there is sufficient demand for a shuttle service and there are other vaccination site options in Taunton for those without transport. We continue to keep this under review.

If anyone needs help to access an appointment, they should call the Coronavirus helpline on 0300 790 6275. Lines are open from 8am to 6pm, seven days a week.