Hi, my name is Dr Rupert Suckling and I am the Director of Public Health in Doncaster.
We're now almost two weeks into step 1A of the release of national restrictions and as we would have expected with the return to schools, we have seen a small increase in the number of cases in Doncaster.
Our rate for the 7th to the 13th of March is 113.8 per 100,000. Although this was expected, due to schools reopening, it does really emphasise why we need to tread carefully as we walk a fine line of keeping our figures as low as possible while enabling more mixing as we travel through the roadmap.
Although children are now mixing in schools, it is important that they continue to follow the guidelines while they are out of school and on the way to school and avoid the temptation of over-socialising with friends, this may seem unnecessary when they are mixing in school but every single contact is an added risk and for now we need to limit the risk as much as we can to keep our children in school and our rates down.
Although we have seen an increase in the rates for the 13-19 year age group, a closer look at the data leads us to believe that this increase is not just due to schools, in fact it appears that a lot of the cases are in 18 and 19 year olds and may be due to their working environments.
The biggest increase in cases is currently in the 20-29 year old age group which again leads us to believe the majority of transmission is happening in the workplace or on the way to work. If you can’t work from home then I would urge you to make sure you are making use of one of the many community testing programmes – either through your employer or via one of our community testing sites in Hexthorpe, Stainforth and Conisbrough.
This week officially marked the one year anniversary of the first confirmed case in Doncaster. A lot has happened in that year and to think we are now in a position where 12 months after the first case we have vaccinated almost 120,000 people is truly remarkable.
I know there has been lots of media stories about the safety of the AstraZeneca vaccine over the past week but the evidence clearly shows that this vaccine is not only safe but also extremely effective, so please when it is your turn and you are called for your vaccination I urge you to come forward and get it.
Next week marks another significant milestone in managing our local response to the pandemic, as we begin to manage the test and trace programme completely at a local level. What this means is that we will be able to start contacting people and identifying their contacts within an hour of a confirmed positive test. This is exciting as it will give us the tools to really get a tighter grip of where the virus is being transmitted at a hyper local level and hopefully allow us to interrupt that transmission at the earliest opportunity.
As always I would like to thank you all for the continued sacrifices you are making to support us to get Doncaster’s rates as low as possible and stop the transmission of the virus. Every single thing you are doing does make a difference so please do keep it up.
Let’s Do it for Doncaster.
Dr Rupert Suckling
Director of Public Health
Watch my latest video update
Your Covid vaccine questions answered
Last week, we asked you for any questions you had about the Covid vaccination - thanks to everyone who sent theirs in!
Our experts Professor Vijay Kumar, local GP and a Clinical Director for Doncaster North Primary Care Network and Dr Victor Joseph, Consultant in Public Health, have answered as many questions as they could.
Watch the full video here:
A year of Covid
This week marks a year since Doncaster's first cases of Covid. A year of uncertainty and anxiety but also of determination, togetherness and community spirit.
But there is light at the end of the tunnel.
If we all continue to stick to the guidance, lower our rates and get the vaccine when we're invited, hopefully it won't be too long until life returns to normal. And there's a lot of new things to visit in Doncaster when we can.
Here's how Team Doncaster and the whole borough came together over the last 12 months to help each other through some difficult days...
Fundraising begins for rainbow tribute following COVID-19 pandemic
Public and private sector organisations in Doncaster have launched a campaign to create a permanent memorial to honour the efforts of key workers, as well as providing a lasting memorial of those in our communities who have died of COVID-19 during the pandemic.
The proposed statue, which will stand nine feet tall, is being coordinated by Team Doncaster and will take pride of place within the centre of the town. It is hoped that, once complete, it will provide a suitable monument to the impact of the pandemic locally so that residents, as well as later generations, can reflect upon the handwork, sacrifice and loss experienced throughout 2020 and into 2021 as COVID-19 swept across the borough.
Local people will have the opportunity to get involved by donating a coloured heart which will be fixed to the monument making up the colours of the rainbow. Each will also bear a brief dedication to friends, family and loved ones, either in recognition of their efforts throughout the 12-month period, or instead in loving memory of someone sadly taken before their time.
To support the campaign and dedicate a heart to a keyworker or a loved one who is no longer with us:
Get Tested to reduce Covid transmission
Regular testing will help us drive down our Covid numbers locally as 1 in 3 people don't show symptoms.
The aim is to identify cases in people who are not displaying coronavirus symptoms and, in turn, to reduce Coronavirus transmission rates in the community.
The more of us that get tested regularly, the quicker we can stop the spread and get Doncaster back to the life we love.
If you do develop symptoms ANY symptoms you must book a test immediately, either online or by calling 119.
Find out more on where and when you should get tested, depending on your situation, here:
Covid-19 vaccination invites for the over 50s
The NHS has now opened vaccination appointments for those over the age of 50 and we’re pleased to report that to date, we have given a first dose to over 120,000 people in Doncaster, representing over half the adult population.
When the NHS contacts you to get vaccinated, you may be offered a few different places to go including local vaccination sites, usually a GP surgery, or regional mass vaccination sites and pharmacies in neighbouring towns and cities.
This is simply a way for you to access a vaccination quicker and don't worry if you can't get there if it’s not suitable. You will be offered other ways to get a jab and your GP will contact you when the time is right for you to book your appointment.
Concerns over the AstraZeneca vaccine and supplies
You’ll be aware that some European countries temporarily suspended use of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine as a precautionary measure because of concerns about blood clots.
We want to reassure you that it has not been confirmed that any reported cases have been caused by the AstraZeneca vaccine and there is no evidence to support it.
Advice from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority (MHRA) and the UK Government is that people should still go and get their COVID-19 vaccine when asked to do so. All the vaccines being used in the UK have met strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness in offering protection against coronavirus and of the millions of people who have had their first jabs, reports of side effects such as allergic reactions have been very rare. Please keep your appointment for your vaccine to help boost protection against the virus.
The NHS has also told us that vaccine supplies may be reduced in coming weeks because of the fluctuation in international supplies that will affect the whole country. There is no need for alarm or concern. We are confident we have our services set up and those who have booked an appointment will get their jab.
You can get more information and answers to common questions about the vaccine here:
Voluntary Sector Support
When Mayor Ros launched her Spring Sprint plan she highlighted the funding available for the Voluntary sector to help address a range of needs arising from the COVID-19 restrictions.
This funding is making a real difference to our communities with 17 organisations already benefitting since the launch of the fund in January. This is in addition to the 41 projects that were supported through the fighting back fund in 2020.
If you think you could be eligible we encourage you apply as soon as possible because the fund is limited and will close once all funding has been allocated.
Sharing is caring
Don’t forget to share the messages in this newsletter with people who may not be online, whilst following government guidance on physical distancing.
They may also be interested in signing up to receive these emails (and other updates from us):
Help us share information that matters to YOU!
We want to be able to provide you with important, relevant information for wherever you live in the borough so you're as up to date as possible.
To help us do this, we're asking you to answer a couple of questions by clicking on the link below. This will allow us to send updates on where you live straight to your inbox 👍
How is Covid impacting your life?
We are still running our Doncaster Talks survey to find out how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting YOU.
Please take a few minutes to let us know how you think your experience should shape what we do in the future. Help further shape what we do going forward:
You can download the NHS COVID-19 app here: