Community transmission of COVID-19 is currently the highest it has ever been with the current rate at 1993.1 (covering 26 December-1 January). The over 60s rate in Doncaster is currently 1199, this has increased 10 fold in the past three weeks.
Now, Doncaster Council, Doncaster CCG, Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals NHS FT, Primary Care Doncaster and Rotherham, Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust are reporting that health and care services across the board are seeing real pressure on their operations due to the sharp increase in the number of patients with COVID-19 in hospital but also staff absences. And hospital occupancy modelling is predicting a significant increase of patient numbers over the next few weeks.
In addition, some frontline health and care services are reporting absence rates as high as 50 per cent and currently 75 per cent of Doncaster care homes are in outbreak so closed to new admissions.
These challenges across the region has led to the South Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum declaring a business continuity major incident and now Doncaster’s Tactical Co-Ordination Group has taken the decision to declare a local business continuity major incident.
Dr Rupert Suckling, Doncaster’s director of public health and speaking on behalf of all the partner organisations, said: “The transmission of covid-19 in Doncaster is currently soaring and these are rates we have not seen anything like at any other point in the pandemic. We do not see this pattern changing in the immediate future, for example we will not see the impact of schools going back in our data for a couple more weeks so that is something we will be keeping a close eye on.
“It does appear that the Omicron variant is less severe, and we are seeing less people in ITU than in previous waves which is encouraging but we do find ourselves in a major incident and still seeing a significant number of people unwell with covid-19 and ending up in hospital. Combined with a high rate of staff absence this causes a real challenge to our NHS partners and our health and care services are now increasingly under pressure.
“We are also aware that staff absences are causing a problem for local businesses and their operations which does have a knock-on effect on the local economy. Therefore, it is important we have a rounded view on why it is important we keep the virus under control as much as we can and do whatever we can to reduce community transmission by taking appropriate steps to keep as safe as we can such as wearing face coverings indoors, having our vaccinations and testing regularly as well as sticking to the self-isolation guidance.”
There has also been a lot of changes to Government guidance recently including:
The self-isolation advice for people with covid-19 has recently changed. It is now possible to end self-isolation after 7 days, following 2 negative LFD tests taken 24 hours apart. The first LFD test should not be taken before the sixth day.
For fully vaccinated close contacts, including those in the same household as someone who has tested positive, it is strongly advised they should take an LFD test every day for 7 days. This daily test should be completed before the person leaves the household for the first time that day. If any of these test results are positive, the person should self-isolate and arrange a PCR test. Our local advice is that if you are a close contact and cannot get hold of an LFD test to test daily, please isolate.
From 11 January 2022, any employee who DOES NOT have any symptoms of covid-19 but tests positive on an LFD test does not need to get a follow-up PCR test. They must register their LFD test on the Government website and self-isolate as er the guidance above. However, if they require the £500 self-isolation support payment for self-isolation they will still need a PCR test.
Dr Suckling added: “I do want to take this opportunity to thank everyone for everything they have done so far. We know it has been a long and difficult journey, but we are very grateful to the people of Doncaster for their efforts.
“We appreciate how tired people are of the situation we are in, particularly with us coming up to two years since the pandemic began, and that it can be hard to keep on top of changing guidance, but we need everyone to continue to work together to keep themselves and loves ones safe, particularly now when our rates are so high.”
As well as the changes to self-isolation, it is important that everyone continues to:
- Have their vaccination – this is the biggest thing you can do to protect yourself, your loved ones and the wider community.
- Wear face coverings in indoor settings
- Have effective ventilation – this continues to be key in preventing and reducing the impact of an outbreak of covid-19.
- LFT/LFD (asymptomatic) testing – regular testing is helping to identify people who are positive without symptoms who would be unknowingly spreading the virus.
- PCR testing – Anyone with new covid-19 symptoms should arrange PCR testing and self-isolate immediately.