Let’s up our game in Oxfordshire to help #stopthespread

Residents all over Oxfordshire are being asked to up their game once more in the fight to #stopthespread of COVID-19 in the wake of tightened national restrictions announced by Central Government.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced a series of measures in response to the accelerating number of COVID cases across the country. These include:

  • Pubs, bars and restaurants to close at 10pm and be restricted to table service only
  • Face masks compulsory for bar staff and non-seated customers, shop workers, waiters and taxi drivers
  • People should work from home wherever possible
  • Limit on guests at weddings reduced from 30 to 15
  • Plans to allow fans to return to sporting events paused
  • The "Rule of six" now applies to indoor team sports
  • Fines for not wearing masks or following rules increased to £200 for first offence

In Oxfordshire the number of cases per 100,000 currently stands at 13.2 which means the county stands at green alert status. In Oxford the number of cases is 21.6 per 100,000, which also means a yellow alert status. Elsewhere Cherwell district covering north Oxfordshire is the other area at yellow alert, with 15.3 cases per 100,000.

Oxfordshire Director for Public Health Ansaf Azhar said: “Now is the time for each of us as individuals, neighbours, colleagues and families to take responsibility for our own actions. During the Spring we acted collectively and we drove the number of COVID cases right down from their peak in April.

“There are now slightly different rules for us to follow from central Government – but it is our collective discipline in adhering to those rules that will get us in to a better place as we enter the crucial winter period.

“Part of the reason we have seen a rise in cases is because people began to act as if COVID had gone away. It never had. Some people gave it too much latitude and now it is making a comeback. We all have a part to play in reigning it back in again. We have to seize this opportunity to drive COVID back to the levels we saw in June and July.”

Reminders on testing

Meanwhile public health teams at councils across the country are continuing to highlight issues around the availability of COVID-19 testing. There is a national issue with testing capacity, which is due to rising demand, and it is affecting all parts of the country. Public health directors across the country are continuing to raise this problem to central Government.

Testing is a crucial part of limiting the spread of the virus. It protects communities and provides the opportunity to create a full picture of how the virus is spreading within communities.

It is also critical that frontline workers such as teachers, social workers, those who work in care homes and NHS workers are able to access testing quickly. People asking for tests without symptoms reduces capacity to test these key workers.

People are reminded of the following:

  • If you have COVID symptoms, you must isolate for at least 10 days and get a test. Do not wait for a test or test result before self-isolating.
  • The main symptoms of coronavirus are a high temperature, a new continuous cough, and a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste. Most people with coronavirus have at least one of these symptoms. If you have at least one of these symptoms, you should book a test by calling 119 or registering online at www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test.
  • If you do not have COVID symptoms, please do not book a test - you could be taking a test away from someone who really needs it. This is increasingly important as we head into Autumn and Winter, when more people will get colds and the flu.
  • If another member of your household has symptoms, you must self-isolate. But you should only get a test if you develop symptoms yourself. Further guidance on self-isolation is available here.
  • If you have been in close contact with someone who has coronavirus and have been asked to self-isolate, you should only get a test if you develop symptoms yourself.
  • If you have been abroad and are in quarantine, you should only get a test if you develop symptoms.
  • If you are self-isolating or in quarantine, then a negative test result does not mean you can end isolation early. The virus can take time to develop and so a test early on does not prove that you will not go on to develop the virus - you could still be at risk of spreading the virus to other people.

It is essential that people do not turn up at their local A&E asking for a test.

Launch of the NHS COVID-19 app

On 24 September, the new NHS COVID-19 app will launch in England and Wales. This is part of the NHS Test and Trace service, which will be used alongside traditional contact tracing to help trace individuals who may have come into contact with a confirmed case of coronavirus. The app allows people to check into venues by scanning a QR code. No personal details will be shared with third parties during the process. It also provides them with an alert if they have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive, and helps them check if they have symptoms and book a test. You can find out more about the app here.

You will start to see posters with QR codes being put up in businesses and venues across the county. From next Thursday (24 September), it will become a legal requirement for all designated venues to display an official NHS QR poster. Designated venues include:

  • Hospitality services, including pubs, bars, restaurants and cafés
  • Tourism and leisure services, including gyms, swimming pools, hotels, museums, cinemas and theme parks
  • Close contact services, including hairdressers and barbers
  • Facilities provided by Local Authorities for the public, including town halls and civic centres for events, community centres, libraries and children’s centres