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Somerset's Covid-19 Update

Friday 18 March 2022

Welcome to the latest edition of the weekly Somerset Covid-19 update for key stakeholders and subscribers. This update is produced on behalf of the Somerset Covid-19 Engagement Board and is designed to provide a weekly update on the current Covid-19 situation in Somerset.

Please be aware you are receiving this email because you have previously subscribed to Covid-19 updates from SCC or were a part of the Stakeholder mailing list. If you no longer wish to receive these mails you can use the 'unsubscribe' link at the bottom of the update.
David Fothergill
David Fothergill
Leader Somerset County Council
Twitter: @DJAFothergill
Professor Trudi Grant
Professor Trudi Grant
Director of Public Health

Twitter: @SomersetDPH
Clare Paul
Clare Paul
Cabinet Member for Education and Public Health
Twitter: @Clarepaul_
The Current Picture
Need help and support relating to Covid-19

(The helpline is available from 8am to 6pm every day, including weekends).

The legal requirement to self-isolate has been removed in England and replaced with guidance for living safely with the virus.
Case numbers have increased significantly in the last week so we should all continue to do all we can to help prevent the transmission of Covid-19, especially to the most vulnerable in our communities. Thank you all for your efforts to keep Somerset safe as we move towards living with Covid-19.
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We still advise basic infection control and voluntary protection measures to stay healthy this spring and to help slow the transmission of Covid-19 and many other illnesses. These include keeping occupied spaces well ventilated, regularly washing your hands and wearing a face covering in crowded or indoor spaces. We go into more detail further in this update.

The Covid-19 vaccination remains the best form of defence that we have against the virus. Anyone who has not already booked their jab can do so quickly and easily at Covid-19 vaccinations in Somerset - Somerset CCG.
‘Remember, everyone can catch it, anyone can spread it.’
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Top Headlines
The main items featured in this week’s update are:

  • Schools, Workplace and Care settings
  • Vaccinations Update
  • Testing Update
  • Top tips for staying healthy this Spring
  • Resources and further information
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Somerset Covid Cases

In the week ending 13 March, approximately 111,064 tests were carried out across the county. There were 5,655 new confirmed cases identified by these tests. The rates of Covid-19 in Somerset remain very high and have almost doubled in the last reporting week to 1,005.8 per 100,000. This is above both the South-West average and the national average.

Hospitalisation data for Somerset has increased by a significant amount over the last week to around 150 Covid-19 in-patients in Somerset hospitals. The majority of these patients are not ill with Covid-19 but have been detected through routine screening
Please note the Public Dashboard is being reviewed following changes to the national policy. This week, the Office for National Statistics shows that around one in every 30 people have coronavirus, and in Somerset, we know our case rates are still high.
Setting Specific Updates
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Schools & Early Years

Behavioural Science Study: The Behavioural Science Unit are developing a survey to find out how parents feel about making the decision whether to send their child to school if they are unwell with certain symptoms. There will also be a survey for education staff to explore how they feel communicating these messages to parents. The surveys will be launched before the Easter holidays and can help to inform the development of communication messages to parents. Further information will be communicated to settings in the coming weeks.
Symptoms of Covid or a Positive Test: Children and young people who test positive for Covid-19 are advised not to attend their education setting while they are likely to be infectious. They should take an LFD test from 5 days after their symptoms started (or the day their test was taken if they did not have symptoms) followed by another one the next day. If both these test results are negative, they should return to their educational setting if they normally attend one, if they feel well enough to do so and do not have a temperature. They should continue to follow the guidance for their educational setting.


The updated guidance on working safely can be found here:

With case rates rising rapidly we are concerned to see some national employers are requesting staff who have tested Covid-19 positive to go into workplaces, contrary to guidance. While it is no longer a legal requirement to isolate if you have Covid-19, there is a risk to worker health and business continuity, and for customer-facing businesses to customer health and safety, from the spread of Covid-19 from infected persons.
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You are no longer legally required to self-isolate if you test positive for Covid-19. People who test positive for Covid-19 should continue to stay at home and avoid contact with other people.

The general duties under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act continue to apply, it being a legal requirement to ensure the health, safety and welfare of employees and others, such as customers, as far as is reasonably practicable.
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Care Settings

Along with increased Covid-19 case rates across Somerset, we have seen an increase in Covid-19 outbreaks in care settings. Despite the national removal of the legal requirement for people with Covid-19 to self-isolate, due to the higher risk nature of health and social care settings, the advice for residents and staff members working in these settings has not changed. Health and social care staff are required to follow the specific guidance for this sector and not guidance for the general population.
The key guidance documents care settings are required to follow are:
It remains crucial to adhere to strict Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) measures, use of PPE, ensuring adequate ventilation, regular testing and ensuring staff, including any new personnel take up the offer of vaccination, including boosters. It is also important for visitors and essential care givers to follow good IPC measures and test prior to entering care settings to keep their loved ones free of Covid-19 and other infections.
Vaccinations and Boosters
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There are bookings and walk-in clinics available NOW across Somerset.

As legally mandated restrictions are being lifted, our first lines of defence (like vaccination) become even more vital. Vaccines remain our primary mitigating measure against severe disease and illness from Covid-19 and it is because of the success of the vaccination programme that we have been able to move into the next phase of living safely with Covid-19

Over 80% of eligible residents have received two doses of the vaccination. The Vaccination Programme is working with health and community partners to identify locations for mobile vaccination pop-up clinics. By localising the offer, the programme aims to reduce barriers to access and better understand community needs.

There are plenty of walk-in appointments are available across the county. Please check our local NHS website Covid-19 vaccinations in Somerset - Somerset CCG to find clinics in your area or use the national portal to find a clinic:

You can also pre-book an appointment. To do this, visit or call 119 for an appointment. The helpline has over 200 languages available if you or someone you know requires an interpreter.

NHS staff are ready to welcome you whether it’s for your first, second, or third dose.
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Local walk in centres can be found here.

Bookings can be made through the national booking service or by calling 119.

Spring Covid-19 vaccine for most vulnerable

The UK Health Security Agency has published guidance on the spring Covid-19 booster offer for those aged 75 years, older residents in care homes and those aged 12 years and over with a weakened immune system. Further info can be found here. Appointments will be available through the national vaccination booking service shortly

Vaccination for 5 -11 year olds - not clinically at risk

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has now advised a non-urgent offer of two 10 mcg doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine to children aged 5 to 11 years of age who are not in a clinical risk group. The NHS will prepare to extend this non-urgent offer to all children during April. Further details are expected in the coming weeks.
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Please note: If a child has tested positive for Covid-19 and is not at high risk from Covid-19, they need to wait 12 weeks before they can have a Covid-19 vaccine. This starts from the date they had symptoms, or the date of the positive test if they did not have symptoms.
Information for parents and carers on Covid-19 vaccination for at risk 5 to 11 year olds:
Children aged five to 11 years old who are clinically at risk from coronavirus, or who live with someone who is immunosuppressed, are now eligible for a lower, paediatric dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. All eligible children will have been contacted by their GP or local NHS inviting them to book an appointment through a local booking system at their GP practice or a nearby vaccination centre. At the moment, this group will not be able to book through the national booking system.
Further information is available in the guide for parents of children aged 5 to 11 years published by UKHSA along with some frequently asked questions on the vaccination programme including information on eligibility, accessibility and advice for parents of children at high risk from Covid-19.

Please note: If a child has tested positive for Covid-19 and is not at high risk from Covid-19, they need to wait 12 weeks before they can have a Covid-19 vaccine. This starts from the date they had symptoms, or the date of the positive test if they did not have symptoms.

There are new clinics starting regularly in other areas in the coming weeks. Please check Covid-19 vaccinations in Somerset - Somerset CCG for up to date information
'Grab a Jab' in Somerset
Covid Testing
As part of the announcements released from the government back in February, it has now been formalised that some symptomatic PCR testing sites will start to be closed very soon. Whilst specific sites and dates have not been released as of yet, please do be aware that you may have less options when booking a PCR test, and you may need to travel further afield, or consider getting a postal home testing kit instead. We will provide more specific details of these closures when we have them.
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As the weather becomes brighter, and Covid-19 restrictions turn to guidance, Somerset County Council’s Public Health team are sharing some top tips for staying healthy this Spring:

Get plenty of fresh air: One of the best ways of helping to reduce the spread of Covid-19 and other infectious diseases is to meet up with people outside, or to ensure plenty of fresh air is circulating if meeting inside. As the weather becomes brighter, meeting people outside becomes easier. When seeing people from outside of your household, it is sensible to take simple steps to improve ventilation when indoors, including opening doors and windows to let fresh air in. Opening windows regularly for just 10 minutes, or a small amount continuously, can still reduce the airborne risk from Covid-19 substantially compared to spaces with no fresh air.

Wash your hands regularly: Washing your hands regularly can prevent the spread of respiratory and diarrhoeal infections from one person to the next and help yourself and your loved ones stay healthy.
You should wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or if you are out and about and do not have access to a sink, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol to clean your hands. It is especially important during times when you are likely to get and spread germs such as preparing food, after blowing your nose, coughing and sneezing.

Book your free health check: You may be eligible for a free NHS health check. Health checks are offered for free to all 40-74 year olds with no pre-existing health conditions.

Health checks are designed to spot early signs of stroke, kidney disease, heart disease, type 2 diabetes or dementia. As we get older we have a higher risk of developing one of these conditions. During the pandemic Health Checks were put on hold but they are now up and running again! Head to for more information.

Want to take control of your own health and wellbeing?
Be aware of stress & anxiety: While some may be relieved to see the end of Covid restrictions, please consider that others may feel significant stress and anxiety. It is important to acknowledge these feelings and remind each other that staying healthy is as much about your mind as it is about your body.
Mindline Somerset is a confidential listening service, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Their volunteers offer a friendly ear, and can provide help or support with emotional health and wellbeing. The number to call is 01823 276 892.

Everyone’s mental wellbeing changes throughout their life, but it is important not to just put up with poor mental health. If you’re concerned about how you are feeling, please speak to your GP or visit Every Mind Matters - NHS (

Get your Covid vaccination & booster: Over the last two years, we have all become aware of the risks associated with Covid-19, including the increased chance of becoming re-infected with the virus, and suffering from long covid. Our main defence against becoming seriously ill with Covid-19 is to get vaccinated. It isn’t too late to get your first, second or booster vaccination, and we would encourage anyone who is eligible to get their fourth booster jab when it becomes available in the Spring.
These simple actions have very little impact on our ability to go out and about and enjoy our everyday lives – but they make a big difference when it comes to helping to protecting our friends, family and local communities in Somerset.

It is never too late to take control of your health and well-being, and we have resources to help you every step of the way. A good first stop when looking for support for yourself, the people you know or your community is Coronavirus – Mental and emotional health information (
These simple actions have very little impact on our ability to go out and about and enjoy our everyday lives – but they make a big difference when it comes to helping to protecting our friends, family and local communities in Somerset.

It is never too late to take control of your health and well-being, and we have resources to help you every step of the way. A good first stop when looking for support for yourself, the people you know or your community is Coronavirus – Mental and emotional health information (
Resources & Further Info
Please do keep an eye our Healthy Somerset website, which has a huge amount of information and resources to help keep everyone healthy happy and safe at this time:

For the latest local information as well as digital resources, posters and flyers please visit:

The Somerset Local Outbreak Management Plan outlines how we, the council, will work with the NHS Test and Trace Service, PHE, the NHS and other partners to ensure a whole system approach to preventing and managing local outbreaks. This can be found here.

Please like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn and share our posts with your networks to help us communicate these important messages.

We would really welcome your feedback on this email update, so please email any comments to the team using

Finally, please follow Trudi Grant, our Director of Public Health’s Twitter account here.
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