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Lessons learned in Newark in the fight against covid can be employed across Nottinghamshire

Lessons learned in Newark in the fight against coronavirus can be employed across Nottinghamshire and Nottingham, say health chiefs.

The number of cases of coronavirus in Nottinghamshire has risen sharply in the last seven to ten days.

Newark and Sherwood was, until a week ago today, on the government watchlist of areas of concern for the increased spread of the virus.

Jonathan Gribbin, director of Public Health for Nottinghamshire. (42214605)
Jonathan Gribbin, director of Public Health for Nottinghamshire. (42214605)

However, the sterling work done by health services and councils - in particular in the areas of promoting safety guidelines, in testing and in track and trace - meant the district is no longer on that list.

All districts of Nottinghamshire and the city have seen a higher headline incident rate than a week ago.

Five areas each have rates in excess of 20 per 100,000.

The headline rate in Newark and Sherwood is 13 per 100,000, but the number of new cases in increasing again.

The R rate for Nottinghamshire, also known as the reproduction number, is between 1.1 and 1.8.

If it is 1.8, the number of new cases may double in the next five days or so.

Jonathan Gribbin, the director of Public Health Nottinghamshire said lessons could be learned from Newark and Sherwood's successes and applied elsewhere.

Increases in Nottinghamshire have been identified in a number of settings such as households, as a result of social gatherings and sometimes in workplaces or in returning travellers or, on occasion, in care homes.

While the spread is largely contained to within the working age population, primarily age 18 to 35, there is concern that the virus could spread into older age groups as we move into autumn.

However, the spread had not translated into an increase in hospital admissions, said Mr Gribbin, primarily due to the lack of underlying health conditions.

Mr Gribbin stressed the importance of keeping schools and businesses open but said parents at school gates should try to keep their distance from each other.

This follows a number of cases involving schools and teachers since pupils returned to the classroom.

In today's covid-19 media briefing, he reiterated the importance of hand washing for 20 seconds, the wearing of face masks and social distancing of two metres wherever possible in all settings to avoid contributing to the spread.

And with the government's new rules on the amount of people who can legally meet up due to come in Monday, there was a warning that this weekend poses the same dangers now with regard to larger gatherings that will exist on Monday.

It will be against the law to meet people you do not live with in a group larger than six from Monday unless you are meeting as a household or support bubble.

The police will have the powers to enforce these legal limits, including to issue fines (fixed penalty notice) of £100, doubling for further breaches up to a maximum of £3,200.

There will be exceptions where groups can be larger than 6 people, including:

  • Where everyone lives together or is in the same support bubble, or to continue existing arrangements where children do not live in the same household as both their parents
  • For work, and voluntary or charitable services
  • For education, training, registered childcare, or providers offering before or after-school clubs for children
  • Fulfilling legal obligations such as attending court or jury service
  • Providing emergency assistance, or providing support to a vulnerable person
  • For you or someone else to avoid illness, injury or harm
  • Participate in children’s playgroups
  • Wedding and civil partnership ceremonies and receptions, or for other religious life-cycle ceremonies - where up to 30 people will be able to attend
  • Funerals - where up to 30 people will be able to attend
  • Organised indoor and outdoor sports, physical activity and exercise classes.
  • Youth groups or activities
  • Elite sporting competition or training
  • Protests and political activities organised in compliance with COVID-19 secure guidance and subject to strict risk assessments

Meanwhile, the mobile testing unit that has been in Newark and Balderton is to be rotated around the county but brought back if required.

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