Somerset cases continue to remain low compared to other parts of the country, but Coronavirus is proving to be a disease around clusters and outbreaks.
To date, almost 70 outbreaks (defined as two or more confirmed cases associated with a specific setting and symptom onset dates within 14 days) have occurred across Somerset predominantly in care homes. Local outbreaks have reduced considerably from a peak earlier in the year.
As the national alert level is reduced and lockdown measures further eased – and if the public do not strictly adhere to protection measures – there are likely to be more localised outbreaks across the County.
All Local Authorities were tasked with producing Local Outbreak Management Plan by the end of this month (June) now the emphasis has moved away from national lockdowns to a local response.
The Plan sets out how Somerset County Council and partners will actively engage with Somerset residents, businesses, visitors and communities to keep cases down and reduce further spread if outbreaks occur. The Plan will be overseen by a new Somerset Local Outbreak Engagement Board, chaired by Council Leader David Fothergill.
Cllr Fothergill said: “It’s vital we all play our part and follow the rules so we can significantly reduce the risk of catching the virus and, importantly, protect those at most risk of more serious health consequences. To date we’ve had almost 70 outbreaks here in Somerset and sadly almost 200 Somerset lives lost. We must all do our bit to prevent its spread, reduce further outbreaks and save lives. When an outbreak does occur, our Plan sets out how we will react quickly to put in place measures to reduce its spread. This could be through stopping visitors to a care home, deep cleaning an establishment or asking those potentially affected to self-isolate. We need to prevent the spread of Coronavirus together, and we will continue to work closely with communities, partners and businesses to help keep residents and visitors safe and prevent further outbreaks.”
Trudi Grant, Director of Public Health at Somerset County Council said: “There is currently no vaccine and no treatment for COVID-19. The only tool we have to tackle this virus is our own behaviour. Everyone has a part to play – please, please remember this when you are visiting friends and family, shopping or out enjoying Somerset now that lockdown measures have eased. All of us sticking to the infection control measures is the only way to prevent spread of the virus and the only way we have to save lives.
“It’s really important everyone in Somerset, whether living, working or visiting, plays their part and stops this awful disease spreading from one person to another. This is through simple measures we should all know now – keeping our distance from anyone outside of our household or ‘bubble’, washing our hands regularly and self-isolating if you start to show symptoms.
“The government’s new Test and Trace service is vital to stop the spread of the virus. And let us know when we are particularly at risk. If you receive a call from a contact tracer, it means you have been in close contact with someone who tested positive. The number that will flash up on your phone from a contact tracer is 0300 013 5000. If you get one of those calls, yet again it all comes down to your behaviour and playing your part; you must self-isolate and follow government guidance.
“I want to stress this is nothing new, we manage outbreaks of infectious diseases all the time, for example in the cases of norovirus, meningitis, food poisoning etc. but prevention is always best, and our joint efforts to stop spread of disease in the first place will help save lives.”
To view Somerset’s Local Outbreak Management Plan, please view: http://docs.somerset.gov.uk/wl/?id=JNTeoNTuUtmTxW3LpuEF3OilF0xgxAI4
For help and advice on how Somerset is responding to the pandemic – and to see the latest Somerset Public Health Coronavirus figures – please visit www.somerset.gov.uk/coronavirus.
Anyone who needs Coronavirus-related help and advice during the pandemic can phone a single helpline on 0300 790 6275 (open seven days a week 8am to 6pm).