This briefing focuses on local issues and updates from the County Council and its partners including local Covid-19 data, surge testing, Hampshire Perspectives and Hampshire Hour.
The briefing also provides an update on national guidance and announcements and the latest national data on vaccinations, cases and deaths.
Members are kindly reminded to direct any coronavirus related queries and comments to the dedicated inbox - firstname.lastname@example.org
Local Covid-19 data
The County Council will today (15 February) publish the latest weekly Covid-19 data summary. Hampshire is seeing a continued steady decrease in the number of positive cases but is urging residents to keep following the rules.
The total number of cases in Hampshire since March 2020 is now 58,941 and there have been 1,454 cases confirmed in the last seven days.
The county’s current weekly case rate has decreased to 124 per 100,000 population and remains below the England case rate at 167.5.
There have been 2,258 Covid-19 associated deaths in Hampshire since March, and 180 deaths reported in the last seven days.
The full data dashboard is available on the Keep Hampshire Safe webpage. Data on Hampshire districts and data on positive cases in Hampshire schools.
Covid-19 variant – rapid testing
On Saturday (13 February), the County Council communicated that a positive case of the South African variant of Covid-19 has been found in the Bramley area, north of Basingstoke.
In line with government guidelines, the County Council is working with Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, Public Health England and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) to implement a localised rapid testing programme in the area.
All residents over the age of 16 years in the identified area are being asked to undertake a free Covid-19 test. The test is voluntary, but residents will be encouraged to take part to help DHSC to better understand and prevent the spread of new variants. Those taking part can expect to receive their results from NHS Test and Trace within 2-3 days.
It is important to note that the risk of transmission from this particular case is considered to be very low, helped by the fact that national restrictions are in place with most people staying at home and adhering to the government guidance of ‘hands-face-space’. Furthermore, there is no evidence that this variant causes more severe illness, or that the regulated vaccines do not protect against it.
It is expected that the testing programme will begin on Wednesday, involving some 2,000 properties in the local area. A team, led by Hampshire County Council and Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, with support from the voluntary sector, will deliver testing kits, an explanatory letter and instructions to each property. Those delivering will show formal identification. Households will be asked to register the testing kit/s online, then encouraged to complete the test/s promptly, following which the team will collect the completed tests. Arrangements are being made to support households who do not have online access to register.
Whether people are impacted by this initiative or not, the advice for all residents in Hampshire, remains the same – stay at home, essential travel only, hands-face-space.
More detailed information about how the testing programme works, a postcode checker to help residents confirm whether they are affected and a set of FAQs have been published on the County Council's website. Linked operations are established in other parts of the UK. There is a list of all locations and further information available on GOV UK - surge testing and variants: distribution of cases data.
The responses from the latest Hampshire Perspectives survey have been analysed. Between 20 January - 2 February, 747 residents responded to help the County Council understand the kind of assistance that might be needed to support mental and physical wellbeing, as well as information that may be required to support the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccination in Hampshire. Overall, the survey revealed that:
- although many respondents continued to leave their homes for essential reasons, just over half felt safe when doing so, compared to a third who felt ‘unsafe’.
- one in five respondents reported low levels of satisfaction with their life currently and the same proportion said that they felt anxious, nervous or on edge. A lack of social interaction was cited as the main cause of low mental health.
- just over half of respondents are doing less physical activity during the current lockdown than before the outbreak in March 2020.
- responding parents who are supporting home-schooling spoke of difficulties combining their work with their children's educational needs, with just under half finding that they had ‘no time’ for themselves.
- almost all respondents said that they were likely to take up the Covid-19 vaccination when offered to them.
NHS charity funded gardens
Solent NHS Trust has confirmed that work has started on the two charity funded garden areas for Hampshire NHS staff - at Western Community Hospital in Southampton and St Mary’s Hospital in Portsmouth . Funded by NHS Charities Together, the gardens are designed to provide a relaxing space for health staff to take breaks and recharge.
Business Hampshire is hosting Hampshire Hour tomorrow (16 February). This Tuesday, the popular weekly networking discussion on Twitter will focus on the future of the Hampshire economy, and will consider the post-Covid economy in terms of opportunities and challenges for local businesses. Users across the Hampshire area use the #HampshireHour hashtag in their tweets during the chat hour to share content and engage with other local businesses.
National Covid-19 cases, deaths and vaccines data
The Covid-19 vaccination daily data shows that up to 13 February, a total of 15,062,189 people have received the 1st dose and a total of 537,715 people have received the 2nd dose.
As of 4pm on 14 February, the total number of people tested positive for Covid-19 was 4,038,078 and daily number of lab-confirmed cases was 10,972. The total number of Covid-19 associated deaths within 28 days of a positive test was 117,166 with 258 deaths reported on the day. The data is available to view online.
The R number range for the UK is 0.7 – 0.9 and the growth rate range -5% to -2% per day as of 12 February.
Support for renters
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) has confirmed an extension to the ban on bailiff evictions until 31 March, with exemptions remaining in place for the most serious cases.
Local government guidance
MHCLG has updated the guidance for local councils during the pandemic, with new information on business and charity support, public health, schools and education, testing and vaccination.
Guidance on community testing: supporting critical workers in education
The Department for Education (DfE) has issued guidance for councils on delivering asymptomatic testing for education settings, and how this may support critical workers in education.
Adults’ social care and public health
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) announced on Saturday (13 February) that additional surge testing and genomic sequencing is being deployed to targeted areas within parts of the TS7 and TS8 postcodes of Middlesbrough, areas in Walsall and in specific areas in the RG26 postcode in Hampshire where the Covid-19 variant first identified in South Africa has been found.
Vaccine uptake plan
DHSC has published the new Covid-19 vaccination uptake plan which sets out how the Government and NHS England are partnering with directors of public health, charities and the faith sector to increase vaccine take up and ensure equal access.
The NHS has confirmed that over one million people aged 65 and over have now been invited to book a vaccination, with another 1.2 million set to be invited throughout the week. Figures released yesterday showed that across the UK the NHS had vaccinated 15 million of the most vulnerable people, in line with the deadline set by the Government.
Environment, transport and travel
The new border regime starts today (15 February), meaning that people who have been in a high risk destination on the UK’s ‘red list’ – comprised of 33 hotspots with Covid-19 variants in circulation –will have to enter England through a designated port and have pre-booked a quarantine package to stay at one of the Government’s managed quarantine facilities.
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