A few links to help you keep up to date with the situation locally.
As part of the Government Covid-19 Winter Plan announcement this week, Tier 3 areas will be able to participate in a six-week rapid community testing programme for asymptomatic people, so those with no Covid-19 symptoms. This follows the recent pilot in Liverpool where people were offered rapid Covid-19 testing using what are known as lateral flow devices (LFDs) which use similar technology to pregnancy tests.
However, there is still a lot of questions around this, including evaluation on how successful the pilot actually was in Liverpool. It took 2,000 armed forces personnel to the deliver this pilot, and we await feedback on how practically that could be rolled out nationally, and the logistics required to do that.
The NCC covid dashboard
COVID-19 Community Mobility Report – dated 20 November 2020
We are currently managing outbreaks in care homes in Northumberland which is reflective of community transmission.
These are being managed well through the care homes themselves, plus the extensive support NCC provides. This is coordinated through a comprehensive wrap around process through the NCC Care Homes and Care Sector Outbreak and Control Group, offering support seven days a week.
We are continuing to see cases in schools across Northumberland but this has reduced by about a fifth in the last two weeks, which is good news.
Support continued to be provided to our teaching staff, including additional support to address issues with parents at the school gates around social distancing and face coverings, which is an ongoing issue.
NHS / Healthcare
Primary Care continues to be very busy, as they continue to provide business as usual. Flu vaccinations have been extended to those aged 50-64, and our Primary Care partners are actively planning for the Covid-19 vaccine delivery programme.
Hospitals across the Northumbria NHS Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust footprint are seeing quite a bit of pressure. The normal winter activity is fairly normal, but they are seeing increasing pressure coming from Covid-19, with some demand on intensive care and respiratory care. The Trust are working hard to maintain their elective activity. They continue to encourage members of the public only to attend A&E for life threatening conditions.
Covid-19 business support grants
Our teams have continued to work hard to set up systems, take applications and make payments for a series of grants that aim to support businesses that have been impacted by the regional and national coronavirus restrictions.
The Local Restrictions Support Grant (Closed) for businesses who have been required to close due to the national restrictions from 5 November until 2 December. Business types include non-essential retail, hospitality, accommodation, leisure, entertainment venues and personal care services, such as hairdressers and nail salons. These opened for application on 13 November and we will continue to take applications until further guidance is received from Government on next steps from 2 December onwards. So far we have approved 1,174 and a total of £1.01million has been paid to 698 businesses, with further payments going out each day.
Local Restrictions Support Grant (Open) grants are for businesses in the hospitality, hotel, bed and breakfast and leisure sectors who remained open but were adversely affected by the Local Covid Alert Level which came into force in Northumberland on 18 September. Eligible business are able to claim a grant for the period from 18 September to 4 November 2020. This opened for applications on 23 November, with a closing date of Monday 7 December. 663 applications have been received so far and teams are processing these and payments will start to be made from Monday onwards.
The Additional Restrictions Grants (ARGs) can be used by local authorities as a one-off payment which can be used to support businesses in the county impacted by the coronavirus pandemic over the financial years 2020/21 and 2021/22. The details of these are being finalised and we hope to open this up for applications from Monday.
Businesses can find out more and apply at www.northumberland.gov.uk/businesshub – this also has a wide range of additional information and advice aimed at supporting businesses during these difficult times.
Please note: a specific briefing on business grants, including details on the Additional Restrictions Grants will be provided early next week.
Northumberland Communities Together
The NCT team continue to provide support to those that need it most. If you know anyone who is a difficult time or struggling the NCT Response Hub can find them support and connect them with people in your area.
Phone: 01670 620015 between 9am to 6pm, seven days a week.
The team will be launching the Covid-19 Community Champions in the coming week, and a more detailed briefing will be provided on this.
Local Testing Sites (LTS) & Mobile Testing Units (MTU)
As you know, we have four Local Testing Sites in Northumberland at:
> Peoples Park car park, Ashington
> Marine Terrace car park, Blyth
> Hexham Fire Station site,Tyne Mills Industrial Estate, Hexham
> Sandstell car park, Sandstell Road, Spittal, Berwick
All sites will be open from 8am to 8pm, 7 days per week.
Appointments must be booked to attend all Local Testing Sites, through the national COVID-19 booking system – they will not accept ‘walk-ups’. Tests should be booked as soon as symptoms begin at nhs.uk/coronavirus – you are likely to be given an appointment at one of our local testing sites or at one of the mobile testing units in the county. 92% of test results are received within the day of being tested.
These additional facilities have enabled Mobile Testing Units to be reallocated to Morpeth and Alnwick, to reflect need in the community – these are operated by Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).
Please actively promote the Local Testing Sites to residents in your area – all testing sites have capacity, and are available 7 days per week, including weekends – it’s absolutely crucial people get tested if they have symptoms.
Any concerns or queries about these sites should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will endeavour to get back to you as soon as possible.
A comprehensive directory of service updates is available in the Council’s dedicated Coronavirus information hub here – this information is updated daily and is being continually promoted through our social media channels, and feedback from residents has been very positive.
There is a raft of information on our website, and on our social media channels detailing what people can and can’t to, so please use and refer residents to our trusted sources of information here.
As ever, if you are worried about the immediate welfare (health or well-being) of a child or adult contact Onecall – 01670 536400 – 24 hour service, 365 days a year.
Local issues- as more people are working from home & some people are leaving their company vehicles near their house’s or private vehicles are there for longer we are receiving a large number of complaints about parking outside peoples homes.
There are few restrictions in residential areas & ask that everyone tries to deal with such issues by speaking with their neighbours to try to resolve these matters.
Thank you for your continued support and commitment to protect yourself, protect others and protect Northumberland.