COVID-19 update from MSDC: 16 October 2020
We know that you will be watching the growing numbers of coronavirus cases within both our districts with concern.
Earlier this month, West and East Suffolk saw a steep incline in cases, putting them on the regional watchlist criteria set by Public Health England. This is when weekly cases reach 30 per 100,000 of the population. Babergh, Mid Suffolk and Ipswich have now also reached that figure.
Compared to cases in the North of England, these figures are still low, but rates are increasing each day. The following table shows the district case rate per 100,000 population as of yesterday (October 15).
Babergh's rate of 61.35 is up from 30.42 last week, and Mid Suffolk's rate of 40.43 is up from 27.91 last week. In terms of actual case numbers this means 57 cases in Babergh, up from 28 the week before and 42 cases in Mid Suffolk up from 29.
At the moment the data team at Suffolk County Council cannot see a striking pattern for infections geographically – it appears to be general community transmissions. There are, of course, some linked cases, such as those in Lowestoft associated with Bernard Matthews and other smaller outbreaks in schools and businesses.
Positively, we are not seeing large numbers of cases amongst the over 70s population who make up about 5% of cases. The rates are higher among the working-age population, particularly 18-30 year-olds, which reflects the national pattern.
It is, of course, important that you remain up-to-date with the latest local information. Suffolk Coronavirus Bulletins including the latest county-wide figures and developments are issued twice a week (Mondays and Thursdays) and are available for you to access 24/7. We include a link in every issue of this update, and also in our weekly Working Together newsletter for all employees to ensure everyone has access to the latest data.
It is vital that we continue to urge our communities to ‘Stick with It Suffolk’ and follow the Government guidance in order to try to control this virus – including the rule of six, social distancing, hand-washing, wearing a mask etc.
Do please support and share the information appearing on our council social media platforms through your own Facebook or Twitter accounts and through word of mouth in your own wards, particularly where this is designed to help the most vulnerable members of our society. For example, there is information on the new self-isolation support payments for low-income earners below.
As well as the latest Suffolk Coronawatch Bulletins, you can see all our most recent press releases and any updates to our services in our COVID-19 response page on our website.
Message to Wingfield residents from Suffolk County Council, dated 2nd April 2020:
I wanted to introduce the work of the Collaborative Communities COVID-19 Board and explain what we are doing, and what we hope to do in the coming weeks, to help those most in need in our communities during the Coronavirus pandemic.
It is important to say that the work we are doing as a Suffolk wide-partnership is by no means intended to replace any local arrangements, rather to support and provide a co-ordination point between national government and vital local networks. The Board recognises that local knowledge is essential and that you will know the needs of your neighbours well, and will continue to keep vital support systems in place. It is clear that across Suffolk, there are many groups and people doing amazing work (and have been for many years) and as long as we follow the social distancing guidelines, there is no reason for this to stop.
The Collaborative Communities COVID-19 Board is intended to bolster and support these existing neighbourhood networks, whilst also bringing an element of coordination and structure to some of that volunteering. We have been asked by Government to join-up arrangements across Suffolk and connect them to national and local offers of support to avoid situations where individuals find themselves in desperate need of help or left without care and support. Please think of us as a safety net behind the army of volunteers already working in our communities.
Some of you will be aware of the work being done behind the scenes and will have seen how this connects to the work you have been doing on the ground. At the end of March, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), Robert Jenrick, outlined his vision for the role of local public bodies in working with and supporting community groups. He talked about ‘community hubs’ co-ordinated on a countywide basis, in line with Suffolk’s Local Resilience Forums (strategic lead group dealing with the overall emergency). This the role that the Collaborative Communities COVID-19 Board is fulfilling.
We have launched the Tribe Volunteer App which enables individuals, charities, town and parish councils, community and religious groups to register their details on the app and support the co-ordination of local need and volunteers. As well as managing immediate need, over the coming months, we know that this support will be vital and the app will help match volunteers with individuals and communities who need help. This help may consist of delivering groceries, medication or essential household goods, in line with social distancing guidelines. This system has already matched a number of people with volunteers (where existing groups weren’t available) and this number continues to grow daily. Tribe Volunteer can be downloaded from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. We would urge all individuals and organisations to register on the app, even where local support is already in place, so we are able to see where the resource is and where there may be gaps in the system. This allows us to map the whole of Suffolk. It is worth mentioning that this is a new app and we are working through any problems or constraints that may appear and we also plan to introduce improved functionality for groups who register.
There is also a free phoneline which is staffed daily by councils and is targeted at vulnerable members of our communities to call for help and support. Friends or family may also call on their behalf. The telephone line is not a general information line for COVID-19 queries, but for those people who do not have a network of family, friends or community to support them and who need emergency support with care needs (including food), loneliness and to connect with community support. This is a new service and will be adapted over the coming weeks. The telephone number is freephone 0800 876 6926 and will be staffed from 09:00 to 17:00, seven days a week. This phoneline and the Tribe Volunteer app are part of the Home, But Not Alone brand.
The Board is also working with foodbanks and arranging supplies, storage and transport of any food parcels needed. Last week, central Government wrote to nearly one million people who were identified by the NHS as being clinically vulnerable to COVID-19, referred to as the ‘shielding’ approach. We believe this applies to around 11,000 people in Suffolk. The Government asked these people to call or register any needs that cannot be met by family, friends or neighbours online and request a regular food parcel to be delivered directly by food companies organised by Government. While the Government gets this system up and running, councils were tasked with providing emergency food parcels to those people most in need and this action took place last weekend and this week. Suffolk Fire and Rescue and council staff helped us to do this. This will not be a permanent arrangement and as time progresses, we will be asking foodbanks and local groups to support this effort, alongside those national deliveries.
The Collaborative Communities COVID-19 Board is also working on additional housing needs in communities. This includes putting in place temporary accommodation for homeless people to protect them from COVID-19.
These are unprecedented times and while we have always had emergency plans in place, the work of the Board is unlike any we have implemented before. It is therefore more important than ever that everyone - across parish and town councils, businesses, the voluntary, community and enterprise sectors, council staff, councillors and members of the public - work together to make sure we get through this. It is by no means an easy task – the logistics of mobilising across organisations with urgency and haste is challenging, so please bear with us.
If you require any further information, please consult the following sources and please continue to follow Government guidelines – Stay home. Protect the NHS. Save Lives;
The Board will be communicating further information through the website, local media and notifications on the Tribe Volunteer app, so please sign-up if you can.
I thank each of you for the part you are playing in this enormous Suffolk effort. Please continue to offer your support to people in your neighbourhoods. We really appreciate the work you are doing and together we will get through this.
With best wishes,
Christine Geeson (Head of Localities and Partnerships, Suffolk County Council)
Chair of the Collaborative Communities COVID-19 Board
On behalf of:
Community Action Suffolk, Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils, Church of England in Suffolk, East Suffolk District Council, Ipswich Borough Council, Ipswich and East Suffolk CCG, Great Yarmouth and Waveney CCG, Ministry of Defence, National Probation Service, NHS – Integrated Care System, Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, Suffolk Association of Local Councils, Suffolk Community Foundation, Suffolk Constabulary, Suffolk County Council, Suffolk Voluntary Organisation Group, West Suffolk CCG, West Suffolk District Council
LOCAL COVID-19 SUPPORT
If you find yourself in a position where you are unable or unwilling to go out and about, volunteers in Wingfield are offering support. Anyone needing some shopping, medication or anything else, please contact one of the numbers below.
If we are unable to help, we shall know someone who can.
Dennis & Melanie Murray, 384503
Matt & Lorraine Ware, 388598
Rosemary Elliott, 384789
Sharon Alldis, 384854
Judy Andrews, 384207
Karen Hayden, 07825 150685
Anna Fielding-O’Farrell, 388264