Your questions answered
Thousands of secondary age children in the county travel to school either by public transport or privately operated bus schemes. What guidance is being given to schools and operators about arrangements for pupils returning to school either before or after the summer break?
For the return of secondary school students from Monday 15 June GCC has instructed all transport operators that full 2 metre social distancing is to be adhered to on all school buses and at bus stops.
Also it is strongly advised that all who board a vehicle to school use a face covering to reduce the risk of spreading the virus. Operators are also using enhanced cleaning regimes to further reduce the risk.
The return of schools in September has not yet been addressed. There has been no decision regarding how schools are going to operate, if all students will be attending or if year groups will be split etc. Given the rate of change at the moment we are closely monitoring this and working through scenarios to prepare as best as possible, however no advice will be given to anyone until we are sure of the approach to avoid unnecessary confusion.
Gloucestershire Sightloss Council are concerned that they will not be able to access the track and trace app. What is being done to address this?
Whilst we can understand that there would be concerns about people who have visual impairments accessing Test and Trace, we would like to provide some reassurance.
There are two arms to the national NHS Track and trace programme.
The first arm is a staffed model for Test and Trace and this has been operational since the start of June. The way it works is that people who have symptoms can access a test in England by going online, or telephoning 119 where someone can talk them through options to get a test; there are drive through options or tests can be delivered to the house of the person. Our understanding is the 119 phone line will support people with impairments or disabilities to access the best route.
When taking their test, the individual will be advised to self-isolate whilst they await results and told that if they test positive they need to isolate. Their result will be texted or emailed to them, and hopefully those with impairments will have technology to support them in the receipt of this result, but 119 can advise further if not.
Every time somebody tests positive for Covid-19, their details are sent to the national NHS Test and Trace team. When this happens, an email and/or text is automatically sent to the individual asking them to log on to a website to complete the contact tracing information. This is essentially identifying anyone they have been within 2m of for more than 15 minutes in the previous few days. If a visually impaired person cannot engage via this method, they do not need to worry, as anybody who does not (or cannot) complete the online information will be telephoned by a trained call handler 24 hours after the initial test. All advice will be on the phone from that point on. If somebody is identified as a contact of an individual who tests positive, they are then contacted via text message or email in the first instance, and telephoned 24 hours later and provided with verbal advice to isolate for 14 days and get tested if symptoms appear. It does rely on people having and email address or telephone number though, and this is a known disadvantage of the system.
The second arm is the NHS Test and Trace app; this works using Bluetooth signals in people’s mobile devices to understand how close they have been to somebody for how long, enabling rapid identification if someone tests positive. This app has not yet been launched as the national teams are still gathering more data after the pilot in the Isle of Wight. So at this stage, nobody is using this method in mainland England.
Here is a link to a helpful section on a radio programme about the accessibility of Test and Trace - https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m000jmtw
¹ The above data reflects nationally published data available here.
² This section contains information on deaths of patients who have died in hospitals in Gloucestershire and had tested positive for Covid-19 at time of death or where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate. All deaths are recorded against the date of death rather than the date the deaths were announced. It is based on national NHS data published here.
³ Weekly death figures provide provisional counts of the number of deaths registered in England and Wales for which data are available. From 31 March 2020 these figures also show the number of deaths involving coronavirus (Covid-19), based on any mention of Covid-19 on the death certificate. Figures by place of death may differ to previously published figures due to improvements in the way we code place of death. This figure does not include deaths of those resident outside England and Wales or those records where the place of residence is either missing or not yet fully coded. For this reason counts may differ to published figures when summed. Bank Holidays could affect the number of registrations made within those weeks.
⁴ Care homes vary in size and in the characteristics of their residents. Outbreak data is also being reported publicly here: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/covid-19-number-of-outbreaks-in-care-homes-management-information. The figures here are slightly lower than our local figures due to a time lag. The number of cases (confirmed or suspected) has not been reported due to limitations in data accuracy which means comparison is not possible. This information is being used for operational purposes. As testing in care homes increases we will review whether adding this information will add additional strategic insight.
⁵ CQC publish figures on deaths where Covid-19 was suspected in the notification from the care home, as well as all cause mortality (since 10 April 2020). It is probable that not all deaths due to Covid-19 will be notified as such, conversely Covid-19 may be mentioned but not have been a contributory factor in a death). While CQC numbers are more comprehensive than local reporting, they are not currently reported by district council.