Latest coronavirus case data
372 new cases have been identified in North Somerset compared with 537 the previous week. Our case rate per 100,000 head of population has continued to decrease and is now 173.0 compared with a South West figure of 178.4 and an England rate of 260.6.
There is a lag in case data meaning the latest information is for the week ending Saturday 30 January.
You can see more detail on our local case data at www.n-somerset.gov.uk/lomp.
Case data is also available at national, regional, council and neighbourhood level at https://coronavirus.data.gov.uk/cases
Covid-19 vaccination programme
Within the Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire (BNSSG) health area we are continuing to see large numbers of people being vaccinated. The latest figures published yesterday show that by the end of January 130,424 adults have had their first dose in the BNSSG area. 93% of over 80s have had at least the first dose and 88% of 75-79 year olds.
Eleven cases of a mutated form of the Covid-19 variant first found in Kent have been identified in Bristol and further investigations are under way.
No cases of this mutation have been identified in North Somerset.
This is a similar mutation as seen in a cluster of cases in Liverpool identified in January, but not the same variant as identified in South Africa or Brazil.
You can find out more from Bristol City Council’s news release.
The discovery of this variant is a reminder to us all how important it remains to continue to follow lockdown rules and ‘hands, face, space’.
Please stay at home unless it is essential to leave. We know the new Kent variant is much more infectious and spreads more easily. Covid-19 spreads from person to person, so it’s really important you limit your contact with people you don’t live with.
Around one in three people with Covid-19 do not have any symptoms but are infectious.
Act like you have the virus to keep yourself and your loved ones safe.
If you have coronavirus symptoms, book a test at www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test or call 119.
Rapid testing now open longer Longer opening hours and an additional site have been announced for North Somerset’s coronavirus rapid testing service.
Details for a site in Nailsea are being finalised and will be revealed next week ready to open soon after. Nailsea joins Somerset Hall, Portishead, and Hutton Moor Leisure Centre, Weston, which both opened last month.
All three sites will also see extended hours, operating seven days a week 8.30am-5pm, with evening opening until 7.30pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Anyone unable to work from home who does not have symptoms of Covid-19 can get tested weekly at one of the three centres.
To find out more and book your test visit www.n-somerset.gov.uk/rapidtesting
PCR testing for when you have symptoms Anyone with symptoms of Covid-19 – new continuous cough, loss of or change in sense of taste or smell, or a high temperature – should self-isolate and book a test at www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test or by calling 119.
This gives access to a PCR test, which can be carried out at Locking Road car park, Weston-super-Mare, or Castlewood, Clevedon.
Locking Road is open 8am-8pm seven days a week can be used by people arriving for their appointment on foot as well as by car, known as a walk-through site. Free parking is available for those being tested.
A mobile testing unit (MTU) runs from Castlewood in Clevedon but can only accept appointments by car.
National nod for North Somerset rapid Covid-19 testing
The Local Government Association (LGA) has featured North Somerset Council as a case study to highlight the work being carried out across England to introduce widespread community testing for people without symptoms of Covid-19.
Our story is one of seven featured to show how the local knowledge of councils can help offer testing to more people up and down the country.
You can read more on the LGA’s website.
Regional business support on offer
Together West of England is a new initiative to help businesses and residents on the road to recovery from Covid-19.
The campaign is being led by the West of England Combined Authority in partnership with businesses from the Regional Recovery Taskforce, which has put together a plan for long-term recovery.
It will connect businesses with the support and guidance they need to adapt, build resilience and prepare for the future, as well as helping residents to access new skills, training and employment opportunities.
To mark the launch, the combined authority released a new Business Support Guide, which will help businesses navigate the wide range of support on offer through the West of England’s dedicated business support service, the Growth Hub.
The guide, which will be shared with small and medium-sized enterprises and is also available to download, contains guidance on everything from business grants to the extensive range of support programmes now available.
Employers and Covid-19 vaccinations – what should you be doing to protect your workforce?
What must organisations consider around the vaccination of their workforces?
Employers can play an important role in promoting the importance of the Covid-19 vaccine, combatting misinformation and encouraging staff to be vaccinated.
However, employers should also be aware some employees may refuse the vaccine over genuine concerns or have exemption due to pre-existing conditions.
Employers have a duty of care to their staff and so must continue to take all reasonable practical steps to protect all employees who face different risks or challenges in relation to the pandemic. They must ensure an open and honest dialogue with their staff. But can they insist employees are vaccinated before returning to the workplace? To answer this question and help guide businesses leaders CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, is running a webinar to look at the role employers should play in encouraging and facilitating vaccination of their workforce and the legal considerations they must address.
The panel of experts includes Rachel Suff, Senior Employee Relations Adviser, CIPD, Andrew Willis, Head of Legal and Advisory, HR-inform, and our own Matt Lenny, North Somerset Council Director of Public Health.
Accessibility event for Covid-19 vaccination questions
If you are disabled or have concerns about accessibility issues related to the Covid-19 vaccination, this event is an opportunity for you to find out more about Covid-19 vaccines in an accessible way, to help you to make an informed choice.
The event will include details about the vaccine itself and how you can book and access your vaccination. It will also include details about how the vaccine is being made available to communities such as disabled people, people with learning difficulties and people with mental health problems.
Dr Rajeka Lazarus, Consultant in Infectious Diseases at University Hospital Bristol and Weston, and an expert panel, will be available to discuss how vaccines work and help answer many questions around getting access to the vaccine.
The event, run by Bristol, North Somerset South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Healthwatch Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire, will feature updates from keynote speakers and a panel discussion to address some of the questions above and more.
It will run online on Wednesday 10 February from 7-8.30pm. Find out more and book online.
As Bristol’s Nightingale Hospital remains in standby, it continues to provide space for Bristol Eye Hospital and the Bristol Royal Hospital for Children to deliver outpatient services and day case services to support children and adults from across the south-west region.
To date, the services which are run by University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust, have seen more than 1,700 patients through the eye diagnostic assessment hub and almost 60 children in the paediatric day-case service.
North Somerset Together – helping you through lockdown and self-isolation
As well as providing practical support to our community through a network of local volunteers, North Somerset Together also includes an online portal which signposts to information and support available to anyone self-isolating or struggling with lockdown.
Alongside the forms to request help from volunteers with shopping and prescriptions if you are shielding, you will also find details of who is eligible and how to claim the £500 government grants for anyone who has to self-isolate.
There are links to local organisations that can help if you have financial challenges, as well as advice on mental and physical wellbeing.
To find out more visit www.n-somerset.gov.uk/together
In other news…
A Clevedon pub landlord whose health and safety failings caused a boy to suffer serious head injuries, has been given a suspended prison sentence.
Work to remove some dangerous trees alongside the A370 at Hewish begins next week.
New orders to help tackle anti-social behaviour and make public spaces in North Somerset more welcoming are set to be approved next week.
Households across North Somerset will soon be asked to take part in Census 2021.
The Sovereign Shopping Centre in Weston-super-Mare is to get a new lease of life with plans to re-purpose the building.
Action has been taken to tackle anti-social behaviour in Grove Park, Weston-super-Mare.
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