COVID-19 levels are now on the rise within the UK and indeed across many areas of the world. Coventry and Warwickshire have now begun to report their first cases. Whilst it is important to feel reassured that the UK is very well prepared for more cases of COVID-19, we can all be taking action and following steps as outlined in Public Health England’s helpful guide ‘5 things you can do to protect yourself and your community’. The first of these is to “wash your hands regularly and catch coughs and sneezes in a tissue”.
We are liaising closely with Public Health England to ensure the right messages are disseminated to staff and partners and there is up to date information available on the staff intranet. Please also have a look at the gov.uk website for additional information which is updated daily and includes any advice for returning travellers and the public in general at this time.
The NHS 111 service continues to take many calls around COVID-19 concerns, but please note there is also a helpful and easy to use online advice service too. Further, a new national Department for Education Helpline has been established to answer questions about COVID-19 related to education. Staff, parents and young people can contact the helpline as follows:
Phone: 0800 046 8687
As the Chief Medical Officer for England has stated, NHS services nationally are likely to come under intense pressure as COVID-19 (coronavirus) spreads.
Therefore, in line with national guidance and well-established plans for situations like this, every hospital in England has been asked to suspend all elective (non-urgent) operations from 15 April 2020 for at least three months. with some other procedures likely to be rescheduled before then.
At Oxford University Hospitals we will be:
- postponing all routine outpatient appointments for adults and children on all of our hospital sites – but we are exploring the possibility of ‘ virtual clinics ‘ and telephone consultations for outpatients
- also postponing all routine inpatient elective surgery for adults and children on all of our hospital sites
- maintaining as normal at present urgent and emergency cases and cancer treatments.
These measures are necessary so that our staff can prioritise the care of the sickest patients and maintain safe patient care during this unprecedented time for the NHS both locally and nationally.
We appreciate how frustrating this will be for patients affected and we would like to apologise. We know many people waiting for treatment will be disappointed or worried, and we will be contacting everyone affected as soon as possible.
We have not taken this decision lightly and would like to reassure our patients that we are taking all necessary steps to try to keep any disruption to an absolute minimum.
We will contact patients as soon as we are able to reschedule both inpatient elective surgery and outpatient elective appointments – patients will be rescheduled according to clinical need and length of wait.
At this time we are unable to estimate when this will be the case, although it will be at least three months depending on national guidance from NHS England.
Joint letter from the Church of England bishops
Since my last update things have moved on again and I am sure you have heard by now that the Archbishops and bishops in the Church of England have issues a joint statement saying that all churches must close, even for private prayer. Their letter (link below) makes it clear that:
- Our church buildings are closed for public worship and for private prayer.
- Emergency baptisms can take place in hospital or at home, though subject to strict hygienic precautions and physical distancing as far as possible.
- There can be no weddings in church buildings until further notice.
- Funerals can only happen at the Crematorium or at the graveside. Only immediate family members can attend (if the crematorium allows) – that is, spouse or partner, parents and children, keeping their distance in the prescribed way.
- Foodbanks should continue where possible under strict guidelines
The full letter can be read here…
I was speaking to Richard Cooke last night in a video conference and he said that the last time that churches in England were closed without any form of service was during the General Interdict on England from 1208 to 1214. During the reign of King John, England was placed under papal interdict and no services, marriages, baptisms, etc were allowed in churches for that 6 year period. So 806 years of continuous service since then isn’t bad
Shotteswell Parish Council – public notice
Supporting our most vulnerable residents
As part of a county-wide effort to support the most vulnerable, Warwickshire County Council’s Fire and Rescue Service along with other services will be working to deliver care and food packages to those most in need.
No direct contact will be made with residents, as this will be a knock-door service, and all staff will maintain the social distances advised, to ensure they can deliver an essential service to those who can’t get out. As well as delivering food and essential requirements, our staff will also ensure that resident are safe, well and managing ok.
In addition, the Warwickshire local welfare scheme helps our most vulnerable residents at times of unavoidable crisis such as this, when they have no other means of help. The scheme provides basic and essential help for food and energy. This is given either in emergency food parcels or with credit for energy. For more information and details on how to apply visit: https://www.warwickshire.gov.uk/localwelfarescheme
Another week in Lockdown, however there’s likely to be some movement in the restrictions coming into play next week; we will all be waiting with interest to hear what the PM has to say on Sunday.
There have been the odd comments (you can choose your own meaning of the word odd) questioning the accuracy of some parts of the updates. The updates are based on information I have received from senior officers and portfolio holders at WCC & SDC as well as information from those authorities’ partners. I may have, inadvertently, misinterpreted that information and there is always the exception that proves the rule, however I have no reason to disbelieve the briefings I have been given. As far as I am concerned, these updates have no hidden or political agenda and are only meant to inform.
Following the update from Warwickshire County Council senior team on 7/5/2020, I can confirm that the cumulative cases in the county are now 1255 with confirmed cases in Stratford on Avon District (SDC) at 276 representing an increase of 13 new cases since last week. The expanded testing programme across the county – which now includes a pop up site at Stratford College – has inevitably resulted in more cases being identified, which over the last week increased by +200 across Warwickshire.
Out of the 432 SWFT Hospital Beds there are 34 cases of COVID-19 and two cases in intensive care. Sadly, the cumulative deaths across Stratford District as of 6th May is 97 with a cumulative total of 408 deaths in Warwickshire due to COVID-19. Over the same period there have been 1975 non COVID-19 deaths in Warwickshire.
The capacity in hospitals remains good with 8% of beds occupied by COVID-19 patients and 15% with suspected COVID-19 patients and two patients in Intensive Care. There are 42% of beds occupied by Non-COVID-19 patients and a spare capacity of 35% reinforcing that the NHS is very much open for business.
There continues to be a reduction in the number of cases being hospitalised and the Rate of Infection ‘R’ is below the national average, but WCC is reinforcing the importance of social distancing and hand hygiene measures being fully adopted as this is not the time for any relaxation because there are still so many unknowns (eg how long does immunity last once recovered from COVID) regarding COVID-19. There will be a Public health review to determine why certain ethnic groups are being affected disproportionately, the review will also look at age, gender, health conditions, vulnerability etc.
There has been a total of 509 cases or suspected cases in care homes settings across a total of 160 homes and WCC is continuing to work closely with all care homes in respect of PPE, testing and training in respect of infection control and hygiene to help bring the number of cases down. WCC has 8-20 days stock of PPE , depending on the item (WCC usually carries 2-5 days stock) and is filling the gap where Private Care Homes supply chains are failing. WCC is working 7 days a week to bring supplies in and then distribute them to where they are needed.
Home testing kits are not yet available to Warwickshire and Public Health Warwickshire (PHE) doesn’t know when they will be fully available at this moment in time.
Trace, Track and Test (TTT) is aimed at identifying people with symptoms however mild and will be supported by the NHS COVID19 App, as well as a web-based tool and via telephone calls from the contact tracing teams. PHE will be providing input on a local basis for the workplace, care homes and school settings, as and when required. Test results will be shared with the individuals.
With regard to the Household Recycling Sites WCC is opening the larger sites in the first instance on 18th May but I’m afraid that the Stockton facility is not included at this time (as are Wellesbourne & Shipston). The sites to open include Burton Farm and the one in Princes Drive,Leamington Spa and visits will be controlled by a full booking system to manage the customer flow through the site which is expected to be launched next week. Safety is paramount for staff and customer and PPE will be worn by staff and there will be additional security at those sites opening which will operate seven days a week. New Traffic management systems will be operated and the police will be available if necessary to assist.
Birmingham opened their HWRCs this week, opening at 11 a.m. – it was reported that there was a queue outside one at 8a.m. that had 150 cars in it. WCC has been working with neighbouring authorities to synchronise the reopening of HWRCs to stop residents travelling across boundaries to tip their waste. I will report any updates regarding Stockton as soon as I get them.
WCC is considering how to support social distancing in town centres by looking at the reallocation of road space for cyclists and pedestrians to help support businesses and is working closely with the districts and BIDs. This means they are currently looking at full or single road closures to improve congestion, pop up cycle routes and the reduction of wait times on crossings. Town centres and areas of high pedestrian volumes are being focused on first. 20 m.p.h zones are being considered too. It is likely that more bus and rail routes will be reopened on 18/5/20 too, with capacity likely to be somewhere between 25-40%.
The Education team is also working with all schools looking at the scenarios for safe opening and much depends on guidance from the government. Operational arrangements involve looking at selected year groups, with a blend of in school and distance learning. Looking at the challenges of various school settings, classrooms and also issues about managing parents congregating outside school gates are being considered, however, there will be a co-ordinated approach around all Warwickshire schools. WCC has distributed laptops to help homeschooling where one was not available in that household.
SDC has now paid out over £27million to businesses and organisations which are registered for business rates and the team have worked exceptionally hard in challenging circumstances to help as many businesses affected by the lockdown.