Covid19 in Cumbria – Key Issues and Actions

Thank you to community groups from Cumbria County Council
We have received a letter to community groups from the leader of Cumbria County Council thanking everyone for their contribution and help during the coronavirus pandemic. Click here to read the letter

Weekly COVID-19 update: Positive signs in Carlisle and Eden
The latest COVID-19 status report for Cumbria has been published. The weekly report sets out key statistics relating COVID-19 infections in the county. It can be found at www.cumbria.gov.uk/stopthespread

This week’s report shows a smaller number of new COVID-19 cases in Cumbria than the preceding week, down from 55 to 41. Despite a very high number of people being tested following recent outbreaks in Carlisle and Eden, both districts also saw a reduction in the number of new cases. However, the number of new positive cases in Carlisle and Eden is higher than other areas in Cumbria and the rate of cases per 100,000 in Eden remains high compared to the rest of Cumbria, but not compared to other areas of concern in the North West. Other districts in the county continue to experience very low levels of new infections. The local multi-agency Health Protection Board is closely monitoring the situation and is proactively contact tracing known cases. In the last week local contact tracing teams have been involved in 32 incidents, tracing 137 contacts. There is no change to the local public health advice.

Colin Cox, Cumbria’s Director of Public Health, said:
“The numbers of new cases in Carlisle and Eden were a concern. That’s why we are extremely grateful to everyone who followed our advice and got tested. What we can now see, from the low number of new cases identified, is that there does not appear to have been widespread transmission of the virus as a result of the visits to local pubs by people who were infectious. This is good news but we continue to monitor closely.

“It is also very clear that the virus is still circulating and being passed between local people in the community, so we must not think that the risk has gone away. Only by continued vigilance and following the basic public health guidance will we prevent the number of people being infected growing again.

“For anyone heading for a night out this weekend I’d ask you just to do the basics – social distancing as far as possible, wash your hands regularly and make sure you provide contact details to any venues you visit. If you are getting a taxi we would also advise you to wear a mask or face covering.”

The key public health messages remain:

  • Wash or sanitise hands regularly
  • Observe social distancing rules
  • Wear face masks or coverings in enclosed public spaces
  • If you have symptoms, self-isolate and get tested

Follow advice to self-isolate if asked.

Relaxation of Lockdown
We continue to see relaxation of the lockdown arrangement; you can check the current guidance on the government website: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-outbreak-faqs-what-you-can-and-cant-do/coronavirus-outbreak-faqs-what-you-can-and-cant-do

Communities and community organisations in Cumbria can continue to give their feedback on their experiences of lockdown relaxing via this survey: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/LockdownRelaxation

Test and Trace up and running, but beware of scams
“Test and Trace” schemes are now up and running, and information on what happens if you are identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive is on the national government website: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/nhs-test-and-trace-how-it-works

Please note that whilst calls from the national Test and Trace system will always come through a single number (0300 013 5000), it is also possible that you could be contacted by the local contact tracing team (which are made up of staff from environmental health, healthcare and Public Health England services) from a different phone number, and this is plays an important role in our plans to contain local outbreaks.

There have been a number of scams reported nationally around contact tracing; please remember that genuine contact tracers will never require your bank details, charge you for coronavirus testing, ask you to ring a premium rate number or suggest you install new software on your phone or PC.

Coronavirus numbers in Cumbria
Information on the local situation, including weekly reports, can be found here: https://www.cumbria.gov.uk/publichealth/covid19outbreakcontrol.asp

Don’t forget that you can also find data on coronavirus in Cumbria, including weekly data on the number of cases confirmed by testing, plus links to national information, on the Cumbria Observatory website: https://www.cumbriaobservatory.org.uk/health-social-care/covid-19/

Staying Safe
Whilst lockdown continues to ease, it’s still important that we all remember to take simple steps to reduce the chances of the virus spreading – washing hands frequently and making sure that we stay 2m away from people we don’t live with where possible. You can read the latest government “staying safe” guidance here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/staying-alert-and-safe-social-distancing/staying-alert-and-safe-social-distancing-after-4-july

Coronavirus pages updated on our website
We’ve added a new page on the website to highlight the key changes in guidance, notes for shielding communities, employed/workplace resources and notes as well as the key dates for reopening: https://cumbriacvs.org.uk/coronavirus/cumbria-outbreak-control-guidance/ 

Downloadable card available for those who are exempt from wearing a face mask
One of the recent changes to guidance is the use of face masks in shops and similar settings – but please remember that there are exemptions to this new guidance for people with some illnesses and disabilities, so not everyone is required to wear a mask.  The government website now includes a downloadable card for who are exempt from wearing a mask that can be shown in shops, etc: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/face-coverings-when-to-wear-one-and-how-to-make-your-own

Face coverings compulsory in all indoor public settings from 8th August
From the 8th August face coverings will be compulsory in ALL indoor public settings, including: shops, museums, hairdressers, libraries, cinemas, churches, banks, public transport, indoor transport hubs, shopping centres etc. it also involves wearing face coverings when in takeaways and sandwich shops. Should an individual without an exemption refuse to wear a face covering, a shop can refuse them entry and can call the police if people refuse to comply. The police have the formal enforcement powers and can issue a fine. As with other Coronavirus regulations, the powers that be will follow an approach of engaging, explaining, encouraging and only enforcing and issuing a fine where all other steps have failed. People who do not wear a face covering will face a fine of up to £100, in line with the sanction on public transport and just as with public transport, children under 11 and those with certain disabilities will be exempt. If you are concerned about the wearing of face coverings, details of exemptions can also be found on the link here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/face-coverings-when-to-wear-one-and-how-to-make-your-own/face-coverings-when-to-wear-one-and-how-to-make-your-own 

Statement from the UK Chief Medical Officers on extension of self-isolation period
The self-isolation period has been extended to 10 days for those in the community who have coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms or a positive test result.
The full statement can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/statement-from-the-uk-chief-medical-officers-on-extension-of-self-isolation-period-30-july-2020

What to do if you experience Coronavirus symptoms
It’s also important to watch out for Coronavirus symptoms, and if you experience any of the main symptoms, to stay at home and book a test. The main symptoms of coronavirus are:

  • a high temperature– this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
  • a new, continuous cough– this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
  • a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste– this means you’ve noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal

You can read more on the NHS website: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/symptoms/

You can book a test (or order a home test kit) via the NHS website: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/testing-and-tracing/get-an-antigen-test-to-check-if-you-have-coronavirus/

And you can find out more about testing options across Cumbria, including the expected locations of the mobile military testing units, here (although hosted by the North Cumbria NHS, the information covers the whole of Cumbria): https://northcumbriaccg.nhs.uk/covidtesting