This week has seen some significant milestones in our local Coronavirus response. Firstly, for the majority of the week our hospitals have reported 0 cases of COVID-19 being treated. We have also seen, for the first time this year, our case rates drop significantly below the national average, our current figures show our rates are 21.5 per 100,000 (from 23 to 29 May) compared to the England average of 32.5 per 100,000. Local COVID data
Our vaccination programme has also continued at a pace – with almost 75% of the eligible Doncaster population having received their 1st dose and just under 50% of Doncaster residents now being fully vaccinated.
This is all great news, and I want to thank all of you for continuing to make safe choices in how you enjoy the relaxations of restrictions. It has been great to see families enjoying half term activities across the borough (including at our newly opening Danum Gallery and Museum) while being sensible and thinking about hands, face, space and fresh air. I urge everyone to carry on, and let’s try and get our figures even lower ahead of the decisions due around 21st June and step 4 of the roadmap.
Please remember the best way to protect yourself and the rest of Doncaster, is to continue with your weekly testing regimes, isolating when you need and getting your vaccination as soon as you can. Visit the Doncaster Council Coronavirus Update website for more information on Drop In Vaccination Clinics, more information on testing and Danum Library.
Testing is one of the tools that will help us get through the pandemic and back to normal. There are lots of ways to help you get the test you need.
If you have symptoms:
· a high temperature
· a new, continuous cough
· a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste
If you have coronavirus symptoms (including a high temperature / a new, continuous cough / a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste) then you need to take a symptomatic test (also known as a PCR test).
This can be done by booking a test at one of the symptomatic testing sites or by ordering a home test kit. Book online or call 119.
There’s plenty of capacity at local test sites should you have Covid symptoms and need a test, appointments have to be booked via the national system using the link button above.
We’re now almost two weeks into step 1A of the release of national restrictions and as we would have expected with the return to schools, we have seen a small increase in the number of cases in Doncaster.
Our rate for the 7th to the 13th of March is 113.8 per 100,000. Although this was expected, due to schools reopening, it does really emphasise why we need to tread carefully as we walk a fine line of keeping our figures as low as possible while enabling more mixing as we travel through the roadmap.
Although children are now mixing in schools, it is important that they continue to follow the guidelines while they are out of school and on the way to school and avoid the temptation of over-socialising with friends, this may seem unnecessary when they are mixing in school but every single contact is an added risk and for now we need to limit the risk as much as we can to keep our children in school and our rates down. Local COVID data
Some great news is that Doncaster now has rates of infection under 100 per 100,000 as of 27th February to 5th March (98.8/100,000). This is the first time we have had rates this low since September last year so is great news, and really is testament to the sacrifices you all continue to make. Other positive news is that our rate in the over 60s has halved to below 50/100,000 and this is due to the impact of the vaccination programme. Local COVID data Although these figures are something to be proud and excited about, we are far from out of the woods and really need to continue with everything we are doing to get the rates down even further. So please do stay at home where possible and get your vaccination when you are invited to do so.
Our latest data across all age groups shows our infection rate is 148.8 per 100,000 people for the period 20th – 26th February. Our positivity rate is 6.2%.Local COVID data
Following my update last week, I’d like to thank everyone for their support and dedication in driving down our local rate. After a few weeks where our numbers remained relatively static, I’m pleased to see a decline. That’s down to the efforts of both the public and local businesses in following and sticking to the guidance.
We still need to make sure we continue this downward trend so it’s important we stick to these principles, particularly as next week sees us take an important step on the return to normality.
Year 6 children found out which secondary school they will be going to in September last week.
Normally, children would take part in a number of ‘transition’ activities that their school would co-ordinate to make the jump from one year group to another a little easier, such as taster days with their new teacher/class, work books to sample their new lessons and so on.
Due to the ongoing pandemic, unfortunately these normal activities are unlikely to ahead in their normal format, however all primary and secondary schools along with the council have worked together to consider how best to support families during these uncertain times. A virtual transition offer has been created, as well as the ‘Flying Start’ transitions workbook which will support transition to all mainstream secondary settings in the coming months.
Every child going to a mainstream secondary school will receive a hard copy of the transition workbook delivered to their home with information on how they can access their allocated secondary school google classroom for transition. If they are in school, then Miss Krasauskas will be able to support them to complete the booklet and access their classroom. There is a parent’s guide in case they are unable to attend any of the sessions.
The government has confirmed twice-weekly testing using rapid lateral flow tests will be given for free to all families and households with primary, secondary school and college aged children and young people, including childcare and support bubbles, to help find more COVID-19 cases and break chains of transmission. Twice-weekly testing will also be offered to adults working in the wider school community, including bus drivers and after school club leaders.
Tests are available for adults in these households to collect. As with student testing, this is encouraged but not mandatory. Getting a rapid test is quick and convenient. The expanded regular testing offer for people without symptoms will be delivered through:
testing in-person via workplace testing
local authority test sites
collection at a local PCR test site during specific test collection time windows
a new home ordering service, which will allow people to order lateral flow tests online to be delivered to their home
Following the Prime Minister’s announcement around the new roadmap last week, we have been doing a lot of work on how we can make sure we are in the best possible place locally to enjoy the relaxations on restrictions as and when they come.
In Doncaster, cases are still high and we haven’t seen the same drop in infection rates that other parts of the country currently have. In fact, over the last 2 weeks our rates did increase to over 200 per 100,000. Although we can explain this increase with ongoing issues in some prison populations, even if we disregard the prison figures it is clear that our cases are remaining static. In fact for the period 13th – 19th of February our case rates are 189.2 per 100,000 and the positivity rate 7.6%. This is obviously still concerning and also of concern is the impact these rates will have on the NHS.
Although the roadmap is looking at a national approach, it does mention that if regional disparities are seen then some areas may have to take a different path. I am determined to make sure that Doncaster is not left behind in the re-opening of our society, but in order to do this we do have a lot of work to do collectively to get the numbers down over coming weeks and to minimise the impact on the NHS.
The latest data across all age groups shows our current infection rate is 187.6 per 100,000 for the week between 6th – 12th February. Over the past week we have seen the rates across the borough fluctuate quite a lot, seeing slight increases on some days. Although monitoring numbers is important to understand how we are doing, it is also vital that we understand the context behind these numbers. Local COVID data
What we are currently seeing across Doncaster is a number of localised and controlled outbreaks across workplaces. The new ‘Kent’ strain is now the dominant virus across the borough and this means that outbreaks will become more likely due to how transmissible this virus is. We are working closely with businesses across Doncaster to look at how they can make workplaces as safe as possible, this includes accessing asymptomatic testing for their staff and ensuring strong policies around things such as social distancing and hand hygiene are in place. We are also supporting the Ministry of Justice and the local prisons to manage recent COVID outbreaks
As we prepare for the Prime Minister’s roadmap announcement next week, it has never been more important that we follow the basics and do all we can to keep case numbers as low as possible locally. Let’s Do it for Doncaster.
Our latest data across all age groups shows our infection rate is 196.9 per 100,000 people for the period 30th January to 5th February.
As we enter a second month of the national restrictions, I want to reflect how much we have all done since the start of the year.
Once again I want to thank everyone within our community for all you are doing to help keep the numbers of coronavirus cases in Doncaster as low as possible. Our infection rate is now a third lower than it was at the start of 2021. The lockdown, as difficult as it has been, is helping.
The start of large-scale community testing in Doncaster and the roll out of vaccination programme are certainly reasons to be optimistic for the months ahead. However, it is still vital that we follow the basics – stay home if you can and remember Hands, Face, Space.
Our large-scale community testing programme is helping to identify cases in people who ARE NOT displaying coronavirus symptoms, there is also regular testing for groups of key workers who are unable to work from home and we also have a mobile testing unit which can visit key sites in Doncaster.
Currently we have testing sites in Hexthorpe, Stainforth and Conisbrough for people who live and/or work in these areas. Please visit www.doncaster.gov.uk/covidtesting for more information.
Together, let’s keep doing everything we can to make a difference. Let’s Do it for Doncaster.