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Covid-19

Remember, everyone can catch it, anyone can spread it.

From Monday 19 July, the majority of legal restrictions relating to Covid-19 will be lifted, but the risks of Covid-19 have not gone away.

As cases rise here and across the country, we urge you to be cautious, not only for yourselves, but to protect our vulnerable residents and frontline workers.
We are advising people to think carefully about continuing to keep the all important two metre distance where possible – the UK’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) estimates that the risk of transmitting Covid-19 at 1 metre could be up to ten times higher than at 2 metres.
See: https://www.bmj.com/content/370/bmj.m3223

As another measure to protect more vulnerable members of our local communities, as well as workers in key services such as shops and pubs, we recommend continuing to wear a face covering in indoor spaces such as in shops, on public transport or in healthcare settings.

Please also continue to wash your hands thoroughly and regularly. Meet up outside rather than inside, and, if you are inside, make sure you let the fresh air in by opening windows and doors.

Finally, it’s important to:
• make sure that you get both doses of the vaccine,
• self-isolate when required to do so; and,
• use rapid tests twice a week.

So, our message is please ‘think twice, do the right thing, and don’t let your guard down’.

Thank you.

COVID 19: Are you lateral flow testing twice a week?

Lateral flow tests are extremely good at identifying when people have a lot of the virus in their system but are not displaying symptoms. To be able to see friends and family and keep them as safe as possible, testing yourself twice a week by lateral flow test is just as important as it’s always been. You can order lateral flow tests online to be delivered to your home, call 119 to have a kit home delivered through the post, or collect a kit at a local pharmacy.

For further information on lateral flow tests, including a video showing how to perform one, you can visit our website here. Just to note: now that we are in
summer, take care to store your supply of lateral flow tests somewhere cool, as the kits need to remain between 15-30 degrees Celsius.

Why fresh air is so important in controlling Covid-19

Ventilation is the process of introducing fresh air into indoor spaces while removing stale air. Letting fresh air into indoor spaces can help remove air that contains virus particles and prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

When someone with COVID-19 breathes, speaks, coughs or sneezes, they release particles (droplets and aerosols) containing the virus that causes COVID-19. While larger droplets fall quickly to the ground, smaller droplets and aerosols containing the virus can remain suspended in the air. If someone breathes in virus particles that are suspended in the air, they can become infected with COVID-19. This is known as airborne transmission.

In poorly ventilated rooms the amount of virus in the air can build up, increasing the risk of spreading COVID-19, especially if there are lots of infected people in the room. The virus can also remain in the air after an infected person has left.

Bringing fresh air into a room and removing older stale air that contains virus particles reduces the chance of spreading COVID-19. The more fresh air that is brought inside, the quicker any airborne virus will be removed from the room.

Ventilation is most important if someone in your household has COVID-19 or if you are indoors with people you do not live with.

Good ventilation has also been linked to health benefits such as better sleep and fewer sick days off from work or school.

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