From the Chair of the Collaborative Communities COVID-19 Board - update 02.07.2020
Advice to those who are shielding: At the end of July, Government help, including food parcels and medication deliveries, will be stopped to those who are shielding. Those affected will have already received a letter from Government outlining the changes. If you, or someone you know, has concerns about the end of these Government services and needs to make arrangements after this time please call the Home, But Not Alone phoneline who will be able to offer guidance and support.
Clarity on National and Suffolk Lockdown Plans and Infection Numbers: There has been a lot in the news this week about plans for local lockdowns, especially with the situation in Leicester, and some untruths about a ‘spike’ in Suffolk’s numbers.
Firstly, there has been no spike in Suffolk. The list published in a national newspaper on Tuesday, which listed 36 places where local lockdowns might be necessary, was based on a comparison of the number of cases last week (20-26 June) compared to the number the week before (13-19 June). In Suffolk, there was an increase of 1 case in this period, from 2 cases to 3 cases, equivalent to an increase of 50%.
Today the Government will publish COVID-19 pillar 2 testing data. Up until this point the data that has been published at a local level has been pillar 1 data which is based on the amount of people who have been tested via NHS and Public Health England laboratories. Pillar 2 tests are tests which have been processed in commercial laboratories, and this data will include tests conducted in wider community settings, such as the Copdock site in Ipswich. Not all cases identified will be new, there will be cases that have been identified since pillar 2 testing has been up and running. Suffolk remains an area with low cumulative case rates and unlike areas such as Leicester, there is no current evidence to suggest weekly cases are increasing, and cumulative population case rates remain statistically significantly lower than England.
On Tuesday this week Suffolk published it’s Local Outbreak Control Plan. This plan will be triggered where there are suspected or confirmed COVID-19 outbreaks in any setting or community within the county. It outlines how complex cases will be managed in more than 30 high-risk places, locations and communities, in particular care homes and schools. It also outlines local testing capacity, use of data to identify and proactively manage outbreaks, and contact tracing in complex settings. You can read the plan and the an executive summary of the plan here.
Foodbanks and Volunteers - “Most of us are back at work now so we have changed our timings but we will continue for as long as necessary…..many elderly people are eating well every day and have someone to talk to….that makes it all worthwhile.” Sharon, foodbank volunteer.
The COVID-19 crisis has triggered a massive and unprecedented response across Suffolk with thousands of people signing up to volunteer; keen to support vulnerable people within their local communities. This has been truly inspiring and humbling. The pandemic has revealed a greatly increased need for both food and companionship, and fortunately, Suffolk’s volunteers have risen to the challenge.
Community kitchens and foodbanks across Suffolk are reporting greatly increased numbers needing support, and from people who would not traditionally use their services; such as working families and older people who would normally have been resistant to accepting help.
Furloughed staff volunteer to help health and community teams: Furloughed staff from Abbeycroft Leisure in west Suffolk have been providing help and support to community health and care teams during the pandemic. Working with team members, volunteers have helped with a range of tasks for the teams, including putting together dressing packs, record packs, helping out with reception where premises closed due to COVID 19, and delivering PPE and equipment. Links have been made with Home But Not Alone so that there is no duplication of tasks and the services can work together to support people in the best way for them. One team manager said: “From our perspective, it has been really brilliant , the staff have appreciated the help, and I think it will develop further as time goes on. Please pass on my sincere thanks, and those of the Team”.