|Our current seven-day infection rate stands at 401.4 cases per 100,000, which continues to be higher than the England average of 336.9 cases per 100,000. The rates vary across different age bands and those under the age of 19 currently account for nearly half of all cases. There are currently 91 Covid inpatients across hospitals in County Durham and Darlington, with five patients in intensive care. For the latest data in County Durham and your local area, visit our Covid dashboard.
Members of the public can now access a PCR test without having the three key symptoms of Covid (a new continuous cough, a high temperature and a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell). While those symptoms should be the main reason to book a PCR test, they can also be accessed by people who think they have Covid without having symptoms, or those who feel unwell with any winter illness. This will help with school and parental concerns around winter illnesses and Covid. Lateral Flow testing will continue to be defined as asymptomatic tests.
The hub at County Hall has been vaccinating NHS staff and will issue invitations to other health and social care staff to attend next week. Meanwhile, GPs are contacting patients over 50 to attend for their Covid booster vaccine. They are also working alongside the community services team to visit care homes and the housebound to offer both the Covid booster and flu vaccinations.
The mobile vaccination service is in the Gilesgate area this week and will continue to go to areas where take-up is lower. We continue to work with Durham University to offer vaccines to students from a site on Palace Green and the vaccination centre at the Arnison Centre continues to offer appointments.
From mid-November, new rules about the vaccination of people working in care homes come into force, with the NHS and social care providers preparing for those.
We would once again encourage people to take up the offer of the vaccine and booster jab if they are offered, as well as the flu jab for those who are eligible.
|Adult social care
Severe service pressures continue to be experienced by the health and social care system, particularly at University Hospital North Durham’s emergency department. Some patients have waited over 12 hours to be seen, with the department regularly operating at the highest level of demand. Extra staff have been deployed but demand continues to be a challenge to manage.
This week, the Care Academy has been working with local Jobcentre Plus representatives to raise awareness of the support we can offer to boost recruitment in the local adult social care sector. As part of our work to support providers with recruitment pressures, follow on sessions have also been arranged with those seeking employment to demonstrate how rewarding a career in care can be.
Bishop Auckland Food Festival makes its welcome return this weekend. With over 100 traders, workshops, demonstrations from celebrity chefs and a host of family entertainment, the festival is set to support the region’s economic recovery. As a key event in our vibrant cultural offer, it will also support our bid to become UK City of Culture 2025.
And, next week, we are expecting to find out if we have been shortlisted for UK City of Culture 2025. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) will announce which of the 20 bidding locations will make it onto the shortlist of six. If we are successful, we will then have until January to finalise our bid, setting out our cultural ambitions for 2025 and beyond.
I will continue to keep everyone up to date throughout these changing and challenging times. Information is available on the council’s website at www.durham.gov.uk and our social media channels www.facebook.com/DurhamCouncil and www.twitter.com/DurhamCouncil.
Cllr Amanda Hopgood
Durham County Council
For the latest government advice on the coronavirus pandemic, visit (www.gov.uk/coronavirus). Updates on changes that may affect our area can be found at www.durham.gov.uk/coronavirus.
Public Health England communication materials (posters and social media images) are available for all partners and can be accessed at https://coronavirusresources.phe.gov.uk/.