|Coronavirus – Support for people & communities – January 21, 2022|
This week we are pleased to bring you updates on the changes to the Covid-19 rules and guidance, the latest Covid data for Leeds, vaccination advice, business support grants and information on staying well this winter.
The most important change has been the government announcement that Plan B restrictions will be lifted in full in England from Thursday 27 January.
The Leader of Leeds City Council, Councillor James Lewis has issued an important and timely reminder to people that although “we know the change in Covid restrictions will have a positive impact on many residents and businesses throughout the city. It is important to remain vigilant and to be considerate to others as our lives and ways of working re-adjust.”You can read his full comment here.
Update on Leeds and Covid-19The Covid rate is falling, although it is still high. The Leeds infection rate has decreased to 1296.6 cases per 100k, which is down 35% in a week.
There are still a relatively high number of patients in hospital with Covid. Thankfully, there are fewer people with severe illness as a consequence of Covid, but unfortunately some people continue to suffer and tragically die.It’s important to remember that the pandemic is not over. Omicron can be serious for some people and the NHS is still under significant pressure.
Whilst numbers remain high we advise you to follow safe behaviours to protect yourself and others. Remember to wash your hands, let fresh air in, wear a face covering in crowded and enclosed spaces and continue with regular testing and self-isolation if you test positive. It’s also more important than ever to get vaccinated.
Changes to Covid-19 guidance
Following scientific advice that the Omicron wave is likely to have peaked, most restrictions will be lifted. Here is the revised government guidance.
Some changes have already taken place. You are no longer required to work from home and are advised to speak to your employer about returning to the office.
Secondary school pupils and college students don’t need to wear face coverings in classrooms, although they are still required in communal areas.
From next Thursday 27 January face coverings will no longer be compulsory in any public spaces although they are still recommended in crowded and enclosed spaces. Also from this date you will no longer need to show your Covid Pass at venues and events and restrictions on visiting care homes will also be eased. You will still need to self-isolate, but the government is continuing to review this.
Keep an eye out for the updated guidance.
More information on the changes will follow in next week’s update.
Get Vaccinated – boost your immunity!
Getting vaccinated offers the best possible protection against becoming ill. Have you had your most recent jab? Walk-in and pop-up vaccine sites in the city centre and shopping districts are proving very popular and there are lots of pop-up clinics to choose from.
If you would like to book in advance, you can book your Covid vaccine here.
If you would prefer to visit a walk-in vaccination clinic, then all the details are can be found here .
National study for Covid-19 antivirals – PANORAMIC
People are being urged to sign up for the PANORAMIC study if they test positive for Covid-19.The PANORAMIC study has been set up to gather data on how well antiviral treatments for Covid-19 work in a highly vaccinated population before making these treatments available in the NHS.
Anyone aged over 50, or over 18 with certain underlying health conditions, can sign up to join the PANAROMIC study if they have received a positive PCR or lateral flow test and are experiencing Covid-19 symptoms that began in the last five days. You can sign up to the trial online at www.panoramictrial.org or through calling the freephone number 08081 560017.
Participants will be randomly offered either an antiviral medicine in addition to the current best care the NHS provides; or current best NHS care. Those selected to receive an antiviral medication will receive this in the post to take at home.
For more information on the trial, including the full list of eligible underlying health conditions, visit www.panoramictrial.org
Grants for businesses and charities affected by Covid-19 – still time to apply
Local businesses can apply for Covid-related support grants. This includes one-off grants of up to £6,000 for hospitality, leisure and accommodation businesses (open until 28 February), and discretionary grants of £1k-15k for businesses and charities whose income is being affected by the pandemic (open until 31 January). Until 28 February, eligible taxi and private hire drivers and owners can apply for a free three-year driver licence renewal as part of a scheme announced in March last year.
From today, in England, people who test postive for covid can end self-isolation after 5 full days subject to certain conditions:
- That you test negative on a lateral flow test on day 5 and then again – at least a full 24 hours later – on day 6
- And you DO NOT have a temperature.
If you meet these conditions you can end your isolation following your test on day 6.
If your tests are still showing you are positive, you must stay in isolation until you have 2 negative tests on consecutive days, or after 10 days.
If you do leave isolation early you are strongly advised to wear face coverings, limit close contact with other people in crowded or poorly ventilated spaces and generally be extra careful as there is still a small chance of remaining infectious.
The Winter Wellbeing Toolkit on Leeds City Council’s website brings together lots of information, practical help, and advice, covering everything from coronavirus and winter flu to what to do if threatened by severe weather and flooding.
Take a look at: https://www.leeds.gov.uk/campaign/winter-wellbeing
We would like to wish you all a happy New Year, and hope that you enjoyed the festive season while keeping safe in Leeds.
A lot has happened over the festive break, and this week we have an update for you on the current Covid situation in Leeds, the latest guidance from the Government on testing, and advice on keeping you and your loved ones safe as 2022 begins.
The new year is also bringing colder weather, so we have launched a new Winter Wellbeing webpage packed with practical information on how to keep warm, healthy and safe during the winter months.
The situation in Leeds
The number of Covid infections in England has increased significantly during the festive period, and figures from the Office for National Statistics reported that one in 15 people in England currently has Covid. The situation in Leeds is in line with this national picture, with Omicron now by far the most dominant variant in the city.
In line with many areas, the Covid rates for Leeds have increased significantly over the past seven days, and currently stand at 1775.2 per 100,000 people. This is an increase of 56 percent compared to the previous week.
These figures show clearly why it’s still so important that we all keep following the advice which will protect you, your family and friends, and your colleagues. Please remember to:
- Do a Lateral Flow Test if you’re planning to meet up with others or visit a public venue such as a restaurant – find out where to order or collect a free LFT pack at Testing for coronavirus (COVID-19) – NHS (www.nhs.uk)
- Isolate if you test positive or have symptoms
- Get jabbed – two doses and the booster provide the best protection
- Have a mask handy in your bag or pocket when you go out, and wear it where it’s mandatory to do so
- Grab the app – don’t forget your NHS Covid Pass if you are attending a large venue or event. Go to www.nhs.uk
- Get some fresh air flowing if you’re meeting up with people indoors. This is more difficult in the colder weather, but if you can, try to open your windows regularly for 10 minutes
Wash your hands regularly or use hand sanitiser if hand washing facilities are not available, and keep surfaces sanitised and clean, including your workstation as well as your home.
Get jabbed and boost your winter immunity
With Omicron infection rates still rising, by far the best way to protect yourself is to have your Covid vaccinations. In all age groups, people are significantly protected by being boosted. If you haven’t had any of your vaccinations yet, it’s not too late; you can still arrange to have first, second and booster vaccinations.
If you are registered with a GP, you can book your vaccination online at www.nhs.uk. Or find a walk-in clinic in Leeds that’s convenient for you at Walk-in vaccination clinics – NHS Leeds Clinical Commissioning Group (leedsccg.nhs.uk)
You can also boost your immunity this winter by having the flu vaccination, which is offered free by the NHS to people who are at risk of becoming seriously ill if they catch the flu. Find out more about how to book your free flu jab at www.nhs.uk/wintervaccinations
Changes to testing for Covid
From Tuesday 11 January, there will be a change to Covid testing for people without symptoms.
If you have no symptoms but test positive using a lateral flow test, then you won’t need to arrange for a PCR test as well. However, you will still need to self-isolate and report your test result at www.gov.uk
This new arrangement will help to improve access to PCR tests for people with symptoms and for healthcare, transport and other key workers. It will be reviewed when the Covid infection rate in England falls below one percent.
Changes to guidance on isolation
Over the festive period, the Government also changed the guidance around the need to self-isolate if you have symptoms or have tested positive. You can stop self-isolating after 7 days if you do a Lateral Flow Test on days 6 and 7 of your self-isolation period and:
- both tests are negative
- you did both tests at least 24 hours apart
- you do not have a high temperature
If you do a rapid Lateral Flow Test on day 6 and test positive, wait 24 hours before you do the next test.
Testing is still vital to bringing down the number of infections and protecting ourselves and others, so please continue to test regularly, especially if you have symptoms, or are planning to meet up with others at a public venue or in their homes.
If you live with or have been in contact with someone who has Covid, you don’t have to isolate if you are not experiencing any symptoms and if any of the following apply to you:
- You’re fully vaccinated
- You’re under 18 years and 6 months old
- You’re taking part in or have taken part in an approved Covid vaccine trial
- You can’t be vaccinated for medical reasons.
However, even if you don’t have symptoms, you’re advised to do daily Lateral Flow Tests for 7 days.
For more information on the latest Government guidance, visit Coronavirus (COVID-19) – NHS (www.nhs.uk)
Latest round of business grants open
Businesses in Leeds are being encouraged to apply for fresh funding support from two recently launched schemes to help them deal with the continuing financial challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The schemes are set to deliver additional help as the local business community weighs up the impact of recently-imposed restrictions designed to slow the spread of the Omicron variant of coronavirus.
The first scheme is aimed at Leeds-based businesses in the hospitality, leisure and accommodation sector, with one-off grants on offer worth up to £6,000. The application deadline is Monday 28 February.
The second scheme is aimed at Leeds-based businesses and charities from any sector, with discretionary grants ranging from £1,000 to £15,000 on offer to help cover fixed overheads such as service charges and commercial vehicle leasing costs. The application deadline is Monday 31 January. Find out more at https://www.leeds.gov.uk/coronavirus/grants-for-businesses
Keep warm and well this winter
The colder weather is already with us, but are you well prepared? The good news is that there are some simple steps we can all take to stay well this winter. We have launched a new webpage where you can find out information on how to protect yourself and family and friends this winter, at www.leeds.gov.uk/winterwellbeing
- Boost your immunity! Make sure you have your Covid-19 and flu jab if eligible
- Keep warm. Heat your home to at least 18 degrees, wear layers of clothing and seek help if you’re struggling with fuel bills
- Stay healthy and fit, be aware of slips and trips. Keep active to build your strength and balance and seek help if you’re worried about a fall
- Make sure you have regular hot food, drinks and snacks
- Reach out, you are not alone! Connect to your local community, see friends or family, take up a new hobby or activity. If you are struggling with your mental health, there are organisations in Leeds which offer confidential support, including telephone support lines and Mental Health Hubs for young adults. Mental health advice for young people can be found at MindMate – Emotional wellbeing and mental health and there is more about mental health support services more generally at Mental health services (leeds.gov.uk)
During the colder weather, many of us spend more time indoors, but having the heating on for longer and paying higher fuel bills can be a worry for many people. If you’re worried about paying your utility bills, or have other money issues, you can find helpful advice on our Money Information Centre webpage, at Welcome to the Money Information Centre (leeds.gov.uk)
In the longer term, it might be worth thinking about how you can make your home more fuel efficient.
This winter, we are working with Better Homes Yorkshire to help low-income homeowners stay warm and reduce their energy bills by fitting free solar panels and/or insulation to suitable properties. To find out more about this limited-time scheme and see if you qualify, go to https://news.leeds.gov.uk/news/leeds-homeowners-encouraged-to-apply-for-free-solar-panels-and-home-insulation-before-scheme-ends
Beware of NHS Covid Pass fraud
People using the NHS App to create an NHS Covid Pass are being warned about fraudsters. Scammers are contacting people over email, text and telephone, asking for money and banking details to ‘buy’ an NHS Covid Pass.
The NHS Covid Pass is free, and the NHS will never ask for payment or your personal financial details. Find out more about the NHS Covid Pass at www.nhs.uk/NHSCovidPass
From 11th January, if you get a postive result from a lateral flow test, you will not need to take a PCR test to confirm the result.
You should self-isolate immediately.
You should isolate for at least 7 days. Take further lateral flow tests on day 6 and 7 and if they are negative you can stop isolating. If the tests are still positive at this stage, continue to isolate either for 10 days or until you get a negative result 2 days in a row.
If you have symptoms you should still get a PCR test – either online at https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test or by calling 119.
Lateral Flow Tests – these tests are to be used if you do not have symptoms and the advice is test regularly or when you are likely to be coming into contact with other people.
You should also take lateral flow tests if you have been in contact with someone who has covid – the advice in this situation is to test daily for 7 days.
There are a number of different lateral flow tests available so always read the instructions as they vary, videos showing how to do the tests can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/covid-19-self-test-help?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=govuk-notifications&utm_source=3390fc32-d628-450e-a579-661ce078d95e&utm_content=daily#videos-how-to-do-a-rapid-test
You can get lateral flow tests from https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/testing/regular-rapid-coronavirus-tests-if-you-do-not-have-symptoms or call 119. They can be ordered for delivery or you can get a code to collect from a pharmacy. Note there has been high demand for tests recently and so there may not be availability when you first try but more do become availble at different points in each day so keep checking.
Changes are also being made for anyone travelling into the UK. From 4am Friday, fully vaccinated adults & under 18s don’t need to take a pre-departure test before entering England. From 4am Sunday, fully vaccinated adults & over 5s must take a post-arrival lateral flow test. A PCR is needed if they test positive.
If you are travelling out of the UK you will need to check the travel rules for the country you plan to visit.
Full details for all the latest advice on https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus
This Thursday 6th January is our first ‘Online Elevenses’ for 2022. It is a virtual catch up for anyone wishing to join us online? We meet once a month online to catch up from the comfort of our own homes and natter in a warm friendly space. We would love to see you.
If yes, just message me firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07436 530073 and I can send you an invite.
Grief and the healing process following a loss, no not matter how long ago, is not something we just ‘get over’. It is different for everyone and can be an incredibly hard and deeply sorrowful experience with some days being better than others. We just learn to rebuild our life without them around the loss. It can feel like it is just there at times and can flare up out of the blue. Talking and being in a supportive space with friends, family and others for group support and understanding can help.
At Caring Together we have a ‘Bereavement Support Group’ on the first Monday of the month for anyone who wishes to come along. This space and time is for you no matter when your loss was, be it 30 years, 10years or just last year.
A warm welcome, compassion, and a cuppa will be on offer.
Our next date is: Monday 10th January 2022 @11am Venue: Caring Together premises, 127 Woodhouse Street, Leeds LS6 2PY
“Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak knits up the o-er wrought heart and bids it break.” William Shakespeare, Macbeth
Please just call, text 07436 530073 or email: email@example.com if you wish to come along.
Last year held some wonderful memories and at other times not. And where sadness and loss prevailed we send our deepest sympathies to you at this time. None of us know what this year will hold. Our way of connecting will likely continue to be different as we navigate the unknown. Yet as we adapt, the turning of the seasons and a New Year bring us hope as we all go on working to find our own ways for each of us to feel seen, supported and heard.
All the best for the coming year and may it be one of finding balance, a sense of peace, and contentment.
Our offices will be closed over the festive season from mid day Christmas Eve until Tuesday 4th January 2022, however we will still be checking in on some members on Christmas Day and periodically throughout the week. I have also added below some useful contacts where needed.
But before we sign off to take some time to recharge for ourselves we have brought together a short video of just some of the things we have been up to in the last month together. It has been a mixture of some truly sad times peppered with some fun times along the way. It does not cover everything but we hope you enjoy it and we look forward to being back again on Tuesday 4th January 2022.
Our thoughts are with you all at this time. And we thank you all for your kindness and support throughout the Year in Caring Together. Wishing you all a peaceful and safe holidays.
Press play and turn the volume on if you wish!
Also, please see below a copy of our useful contacts for over the holidays from our recent newsletter.Useful-numbers-dec-21
A message from the leader of Leeds City Council, Councillor James Lewis
This month we marked the anniversary of the first Covid vaccination in the world and the start of the biggest vaccination programme in NHS history. Since then, over 1.3 million vaccinations have been delivered in Leeds, which is an incredible achievement. My thanks go to all frontline workers, volunteers, and residents for your ongoing efforts in fighting this virus.
Unfortunately, recent news has focused on the new Omicron variant of Covid, and the anticipated rapid rise in infections. Covid will continue to be a feature of our lives for some time to come so we need to continue to manage the risk to ourselves and others. Although the current position is not the one we were hoping for, particularly at this time of year, we will get through this if we keep working together as a city.
The best thing we can all do is get vaccinated and have your booster when invited. This is the most effective way of protecting yourself, your family and your friends. Please continue to follow the guidance to keep yourself and others safe. Get tested, and self-isolate if you are required to. Make sure you wear your mask and if you’re indoors try to keep the room well ventilated.
I never fail to be impressed by how the people and organisations of Leeds come together to support one another through these challenging times. With the holiday period coming up I do hope you all get the opportunity to connect with family and friends and to celebrate Christmas safely. For those who will be working and keeping vital services across the city running, I extend my thanks.
I would like to wish you all a very safe, happy and healthy Christmas and New Year. The New Year brings in new opportunities, and we have much to look forward to, so let us all look forward to a better 2022.
Cllr James Lewis Leader Leeds City Council
Top 5 tips to keep safe and well this festive season
To help reduce the spread of the new Omicron variant and covid during the festive season, here are some top tips to keep you and your friends and family safe:
- Test before you go out – find out where to get a free LFT pack
- Get jabbed – first, second or booster – it’s never too late to start your Covid-19 vaccination course
- Don’t forget your mask!
- Grab the app – don’t forget your vaccine pass if you are attending a large venue or event
- Got friends and family visiting? Opening a window for just 10 mins an hour can help stop the spread
Guidance on isolating
To keep up to date with the latest advice on when to self isolate visit the Government website regularly.
We want to hear your thoughts on our budget proposals for next year
The council is currently consulting on the proposed budget for the upcoming year.
Changes to government funding, increased costs in dealing with the ongoing impacts of Covid, a loss of income, as well as increases in demand for services for some of our most vulnerable residents mean that we need to look closely at what we can do to balance our books and provide savings where possible.
We’re really interested in your views on how we spend money and set a balanced budget. We’re also keen to hear your thoughts on how we can improve the way that we deliver services, and where there might be opportunities to do things in more modern and efficient ways.
Have your say on our City Ambition
Our City Ambition looks at how partners across all parts of the city work together and embrace a successful Team Leeds approach, as we have demonstrated and done so well during the pandemic. The ambition focuses on tacking poverty and inequality and is underpinned by a continued commitment to strength-based approaches, harnessing a contribution from everyone, working across sectors with you the citizen at the centre of activity. Join the conversation and provide us with your thoughts on the Ambition.
Are you ready for Winter? There are some simple steps we can all take to stay well.
Be prepared. Keep warm, keep active, seek help if you’re struggling with fuel bills.