'Act now for spring and summer freedoms' urges director of public health

The Friday Brief: Update on current Covid rates, new rapid testing sites and vaccination numbers

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If Northamptonshire’s residents want more freedom over the spring and summer they need to act now according to the county’s director of public health.

Amid rising cases and deaths Lucy Wightman yesterday urged residents to do the right thing saying evidence is still pointing to the now illegal mixing of households as the primary cause of transmission.

Like the rest of the country the county has been in lockdown since January 5 but the restrictions have not yet led to lower transmission rates.

In the week to January 10 there were more than 4,600 new cases in Northants and 55 deaths. Updated figures up to January 17 will be published later today.

“We have a very long way to go before some of our boroughs and districts come down to even the England average, let alone below that. So if people are looking forward to having a spring and summer where they have got some of their freedoms back they have to start adhering to the rules. The sooner we do the right thing, the sooner we get back to the freedoms. A little bit of pain is worth that long term gain to protect ourselves and each other.”

The lion’s share of cases is in the 20-29 age group and numbers are rising in all places, apart from East Northants which is seeing positive cases plateau.


Rapid testing

Two new rapid test centres opened in Northamptonshire this week. Lodge Park Sports Centre in Corby and the University of Northampton are offering the lateral flow tests which give a Covid result in 30 minutes.

The tests are for people without symptoms and details of how to book are here. Priority is given to those working in the sectors of: transport, health and social care, education and childcare, food production and food retail, warehousing, construction and agency workers.

Health bosses say people working in these sectors are being advised to get tested on a weekly basis and more sites will be opening soon.


Vaccinations

More than 55,000 Northants residents have now received their first dose of the vaccine. Head of the county’s clinical commissioning group Toby Sanders has said three quarters of the over 80 population have now received a vaccine dose and some over 75s are now receiving the vaccine. There are 16 centres linked to GP surgeries across the county, plus hubs at the two hospitals and a roving service to care homes and people’s homes.


Impact of Covid on carers

Unpaid and informal carers are being asked to share their experiences in a new survey about the impact of Covid on those who provide free care to family and friends.

The survey, which has been launched by Northamptonshire Healthwatch, will have one version for people aged between 11-17 and another for over-18s. The findings will be shared with local organisations that provide health services in the county.

Mark Major, CEO of Northamptonshire Carers said:

“Unpaid carers are playing a greater role than ever before in supporting people with their care needs. The changing priorities of health and  care services during the coronavirus pandemic has had a big impact on both them and those they care for. Carers have valuable insight into how well services are working and we encourage them to have their say so that services can be improved for all carers.”

The survey is available at https://bit.ly/carerscovid


If you haven’t read all of our stories from this week you can catch up now. We’ve spoken to people sleeping rough on Northampton’s streets; had an exclusive update on the police investigation into a care home which suffered a big Covid outbreak; looked at Northants Police’s approach to Covid fines and reported on the new town councils set to start running from April.

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