COVID community update – 20 January 2022
Dear volunteer coordinators and parish Councillors,
A return to ‘Plan A’
As you will no doubt have heard, the Prime Minister announced on Wednesday that we would be moving from the ‘Plan B’ measures to prevent the spread of the Omicron variant, back to the ‘Plan A’ that was in place before the new variant emerged. This means changes both to guidance and to laws, some of which take immediate effect and some which will come into effect over the coming week(s) where law changes are needed. You can read more about these changes on the Government website.
I would like to add some caution to this update. Health colleagues are still reporting a significant number of COVID-positive patients in hospitals. Education colleagues are experiencing a shortage of staff due to COVID-19 and, although there are no schools currently closed in Cambridgeshire, many have closed classes / year groups. You can see in one of the items below a request for qualified ex-teachers to step in to help keep schools open.
Equally, Public Health colleagues are urging us to take a decline in reported case rates with a big pinch of salt; the steep drop in infections being reported is heavily linked to the change in requirement to take a confirmatory PCR test after a positive Lateral Flow Test (people do not seem to be reporting their positive LFT results, so their data is not being collected). If you can remind people to report their results, this will all help to paint a more accurate picture. You can easily share this Facebook post in your community.
Despite this reported drop in infections, Cambridgeshire still has a high case rate, of 943/100,000 population, with South Cambridgeshire also high, at 892/100,000 population. Case rates in schools are currently the highest they’ve ever been, particularly among the 2-4 (early years) and 5-10 (primary age) cohorts. And it is anticipated that the full effect of Omicron hasn’t yet reached secondary schools.
As we transition to ‘Plan A’, please do remind your communities that the risk of COVID-19 (to them, their loved ones, and to the wider community) hasn’t gone away, and many key workers are still under incredible pressure with staff shortages.
People are still coming along for first, second and booster doses. Find out the latest information on where to access a vaccination at www.thevaccinators.co.uk – where you’ll also be able to find the latest news about new cohorts that are becoming eligible for vaccination/additional doses.
A reminder also that if residents are not able to travel to a vaccination appointment, please signpost them to Cambridgeshire County Council’s ‘Vaxi Taxi’ scheme, where the County Council will cover the cost of the taxi journey. An image attached has further information on this too.
Urgent call for qualified teachers
Due to the continuing impact of the Omicron variant on teaching numbers in schools, there is an urgent call for qualified teachers in Cambridgeshire. We have heard from the County Council that schools are reporting staff absence rates of around 10% and as a result supply teachers are already fully employed to cover the absentees. Some education staff are being lent out to help keep classes and schools open. So, as highlighted in the news recently, the Government is inviting qualified ex-teachers from primary, secondary and further education to step in and help teach children and young people in school and college on a temporary basis. They may be retired, taking time off to care for children or others, or currently working in a different area, but it is hoped that some of them will be able to spare some time to help. Anyone who may be able to help locally is asked to register with a supply teaching agency now.
Self-isolation guidance change – updated to five days
From last Monday (17 January), people have been able to end their self-isolation after five full days, as long as they test negative on both day five and day six and do not have a temperature.
It is crucial that people who are isolating wait until they have received two negative lateral flow tests on two consecutive days to reduce the chance that they are still infectious. The first test must be taken no earlier than day five of the self-isolation period, and the second must be taken the following day. If an individual is positive on day five, then a negative test is required on day six and day seven to release from isolation.
Those who leave self-isolation on or after day 6 are strongly advised to wear face coverings and limit close contact with other people in crowded or poorly ventilated spaces, to work from home if they can, and minimise contact with anyone who might be at a higher risk of severe illness if infected with COVID-19. You can further information on the Government website.
Volunteering in your Community
If you’ve volunteered your time during the pandemic and are thinking about getting involved in other community projects, we would love to hear from you. Check out our Community action case studies webpage for inspiration from other local groups. If you’d like to find out more about the support we can offer, please email Emma Dyer at . Following our successful event on 22 November showcasing local community action and community led plans, we are holding another event on 7 March at 6 pm.
In addition, CCVS are offering two free online Volunteer Fairs, from 1pm to 2pm on both Tuesday 25 January and Tuesday 1 February. These sessions will help you find out what roles are available in your community, what would suit you, and how to get involved.
Cambridgeshire Police colleagues are providing an easy way for you to tell them about policing concerns. This process doesn’t replace their crime reporting system, but it gives you a chance to tell them more generally what you feel they should be tackling. If you live in South Cambridgeshire, please complete the online survey. You can also sign up to attend an online meeting on 1 February, where you’ll have the opportunity to hear from the neighbourhood policing team and to ask any questions.
Lead Cabinet Member for Community Resilience, Health and Wellbeing
South Cambridgeshire District Council