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New online NHS site is first and best port of call for help with coronavirus symptoms

New online NHS site is first and best port of call for help with coronavirus symptoms

Top clinicians are issuing advice to help reduce the spread of infection as the country moves into the ‘delay’ phase of its response to Covid-19.

Following the Prime Minister’s announcement yesterday (12 March), people worried about symptoms are being told by the chief medical officer not to call NHS 111 to try to book a test, as Public Health England have recommended an end to routinely testing for coronavirus in this next phase of the epidemic.

Instead, anyone worried about having the virus should self-isolate, without calling or checking with NHS 111 first.

Travel and contact history are no longer important for diagnosis, which will now be made on the basis of symptoms: a new continuous cough or high temperature.

The NHS is urging people to visit a new online advice hub at www.nhs.uk/coronavirus as the go-to place for clear advice for people with early symptoms of coronavirus.

The new web page details the latest guidance for anyone experiencing these possible early signs of coronavirus, and people should use this page as their first port of call if they are experiencing symptoms.

Professor Stephen Powis, national medical director for the NHS, said: “Everyone who has symptoms including a new continuous cough or high temperature should now stay at home and self-isolate, without needing to call or checking with NHS 111. As recommended by the chief medical officer, routine testing will now stop as it is unnecessary for those staying at home.

“As the chief medical officer also warned yesterday, calling NHS 111 routinely can put extra pressure on the NHS and could even make it harder for people with life-threatening conditions to get the help they need.

“The alternative option is expert and convenient advice online at nhs.uk/coronavirus which is the best port of call for help with coronavirus.

“For anyone who needs to stay at home and get better, they should continue to follow our advice and practice good hygiene, especially washing your hands more often and for longer, which will keep you and your family safe.”

Anyone who has either a new continuous cough or high temperature should follow this advice:

  • Stay at home and do not leave your house for 7 days from when your symptoms started. This action will help protect others in your community whilst you are infectious.
  • Plan ahead and ask others for help to ensure that you can successfully stay at home.
  • Ask your employer, friends and family to help you to get the things you need to stay at home.
  • Stay at least 2 metres (about 3 steps) away from other people in your home whenever possible.
  • Sleep alone, if that is possible.
  • Wash your hands regularly for 20 seconds, each time using soap and water.
  • Stay away from vulnerable individuals such as the elderly and those with underlying health conditions as much as possible.
  • Remain at home until 7 days after the onset of symptoms. After 7 days, if you feel better and no longer have a fever, you can return to your normal routine.
  • If your symptoms worsen during home isolation or are no better after 7 days use NHS 111 online or call NHS 111; for a medical emergency dial 999.
  • A cough may persist for several weeks in some people, despite the coronavirus infection having cleared. A persistent cough along does not mean people must continue to self isolate for more than 7 days.

This advice will continue to be reviewed and updated by experts, and the public can access the most up to date information at www.nhs.uk/coronavirus

Public Hearts Scheme launched across the Thames Valley

Public Hearts Scheme launched across the Thames Valley

South Central Ambulance Service is supporting the Public Hearts Scheme, which fittingly launched in Reading on Valentine’s Day (14 February).

The Public Hearts Scheme, which aims to increase the public’s access to life saving automated external defibrillators (AEDs), was set up in 2017 by PC Matt Hammond at Gloucestershire Constabulary, and is expanding across the Thames Valley area.

The scheme is a partnership between the local licensed venues, South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) and Thames Valley Police. Licensed venues from across Thames Valley can sign up to receive a collection pot to help raise funds to go towards purchasing an AED for their premises, which currently costs around £800. Money raised beyond this amount will then go towards the upkeep and maintenance of the devices.

Reading’s Business Improvement District (BID) has funded the first 11 defibrillators for Reading town centre.

As first responders to emergencies across the Thames Valley, our frontline ambulance staff, community first responders and Thames Valley Police Officers understand the importance of having access to an AED, particularly in the evenings when many community venues that house them may be closed. By being housed in licensed premises, these can be used by members of the public as well as the emergency services. AEDs are designed to be easy to use by members of the public, and you don’t need any training to be able to use them.

David Hamer, Operations Manager – Community Engagement & Training at SCAS said: “Sudden cardiac arrest is the leading cause of premature death; the earlier there is intervention by someone to start basic life support and apply an AED the better chance of a positive outcome for the victim.

“AEDs are simple machines that are easy to use. The user will be instructed what to do by the machine, so no formal training is required. They have been used by many untrained members of the public with lives being saved as a result. Never be afraid to use this lifesaving piece of equipment if you need to.”

Within the Thames Valley the scheme is being led by Licensing Officer Sergeant Larah Fisher from Thames Valley Police: “After meeting with Matt Hammond from Gloucestershire Constabulary and hearing about the success of the scheme there, I knew it would be something that we could support in the Thames Valley.

“We contacted licensed venues across the force and everyone has been really keen to get the scheme running in their areas. It’s great to see the community coming together to fund the purchase of these devices. They are there for anyone who is unlucky enough to find themselves in a situation when it could be used to save a life.”

Public Hearts officially launched in Reading on Valentine’s Day, with some venues across the town holding fundraising events to support towards the installation of more defibrillators around Reading.

Business Improvement District Manager in Reading, Bobby Lonergan, said: “Reading Central Business Improvement District is pleased to fund this life saving equipment which will be on hand at 11 licensed venues around town, ensuring the defibrillators are not just available during the daytime but also in the evenings and into the early hours.”

Any venues who are interested in being part of the scheme across the Thames Valley, please get in touch with your local licencing officer.

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Coronavirus: Stakeholder Briefing – Thursday, 13 February

On Wednesday 12 February, guests of Kents Hill Park Hotel were given the results of the swab tests that were undertaken on their arrival and all swab results were negative. This indicates that it is unlikely that any of the guests have coronavirus.

All guests will need to have further swab tests after six and 12 days of their stay at the facility to confirm that they remain negative for coronavirus.

Each of the guests have been given their individual test results and further information about how they can move around the hotel.

Following the cascade of this information, NHS and Public Health England staff met with the guests to discuss their results, the new guidance on how they can move around the hotel and to address any questions or concerns they may have.

Guests are continuing to take all the precautionary measures they were previously and staff at the facility are continuing to take full infection prevention measures.

Both local and national NHS organisations, Public Health England and the Department of Health and Social Care would like to thank guests for their ongoing cooperation and the local community of Milton Keynes, who have been offering support and well wishes to our guests.

Information for the Public

Coronavirus presents with flu-like symptoms including a fever, a cough, or difficulty breathing. The current evidence is that most cases appear to be mild.

If you have travelled from China, or Thailand, Japan, Republic of Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia or Macau to the UK in the last 14 days and develop symptoms of cough, fever or shortness of breath, you should:

    • immediately self-isolate, even if symptoms are minor and call NHS111
    • Stay indoors and avoid contact with other people as you would with the flu

Stay informed of the latest public health advice by regularly checking this link which is updated daily: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/wuhan-novel-coronavirus-information-for-the-public

Coronavirus: Stakeholder Briefing – Sunday, 9 February, 2020

Approximately 118 people returning from Wuhan in China have arrived at Kents Hill Park in Milton Keynes where they will stay for the next 14 days.

Men, women and children arrived at the 300-bed hotel facility at 10.15am on Sunday, February 9, in eight coaches. All guests underwent additional health screening immediately on arrival. Additional clothing, toiletries, children’s toys, nappies and other comfort items were made available for all guests. Each guest (or couple/ family group) have been allocated two rooms (one as a bedroom and one as lounge/ kitchen), where they will remain in isolation for the next 48 hours. Fridges and microwaves are available in every room, along with food and drinks.

Staff from a number of different health and social care agencies, including Milton Keynes University Hospital, NHS England, South Central Ambulance Service, Milton Keynes CCG, and Public Health England; as well Milton Keynes Council, are providing on-site support for guests at the facility.

All guests and staff are adhering to strict infection and prevention control protocols, including wearing masks and gloves. Staff in close contact with guests, or performing clinical assessments, are wearing full personal protective equipment.

Access to the hotel facility is strictly regulated and staff leaving the facility undertake appropriate decontamination. As guests remain in isolation – as a precautionary measure – and with controls on access and rigorous infection prevention and control measures in place, there is no risk to the wider public.

The presence of this group in Milton Keynes does not present any risk to local people – businesses and schools on the Kents Hill Park estate will continue to open as normal. No additional safeguards are required for members of the public.

The process of repatriation has been led by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, with the advice of the Chief Medical Officer, and the support of the Department of Health and Social Care, the NHS and Public Health England.

The UK is well prepared for these types of incidents and there is rapid and effective testing undertaken by PHE available for this virus. The NHS has expert teams of highly-trained staff and specialist hospital units around the country ready to receive and care for any patients with any highly infectious disease. The NHS adheres to the highest safety standards for the protection of its staff, patients and the public.

Based on current evidence, Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) presents with flu-like symptoms including a fever, a cough, or difficulty breathing. The current evidence is that most cases appear to be mild.

There is more information and advice on Novel Coronavirus on the Government’s website at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/wuhan-novel-coronavirus-information-for-the-public

The Multi-agency response team will be regularly updating this briefing for partners.

Frequently asked questions

Are staff entering the facility where the groups are being kept required to wear full PPE?

Staff entering the facility are taking appropriate infection prevention and control precautions including wearing appropriate PPE.

The people who drove the buses that transported the group were not wearing PPE – does this pose a risk to the wider community?

Seating arrangements ensured that the drivers were not in close contact with the passengers on the journey, which meant they were not at risk and did not require PPE. Close contact means being within two metres of an infected person for at least fifteen minutes. The measures we put in place to address this were to block off five rows at the front and boarding the drivers last. The drivers do not pose a risk to public health as a result of driving these passengers to their accommodation and should go about their daily lives as normal.

If NHS staff need to enter the site, will they be provided with full PPE?

Staff entering the facility are taking appropriate infection prevention and control precautions including wearing appropriate PPE provided by the facility.

Are those who have been repatriated being assessed daily by a medical team?

There is an onsite clinical team and checks are being made daily on all those in the facility.

Is the site being regularly cleaned to help stop the spread of infection?

Appropriate cleaning is being undertaken onsite.

Why was this site chosen?

The local site has been chosen because it offers appropriate accommodation and other facilities for those coming back from Wuhan while they stay in Milton Keynes. It also allows the health of those in the group to be regularly monitored and has the necessary medical facilities close at hand should they be required.

There are schools in the area, do these people pose a risk?

This group being repatriated will be kept in isolation on the site and so they pose no risk to the wider community, including any school children.

If they test negative, will they be allowed to leave?

As the incubation period is 14 days, people may still develop the virus even after an initial test. They will therefore be asked to remain at the facility until day 14.

What will happen if they test positive?

If a result does come back positive they will be isolated appropriately and receive the necessary specialist care within the NHS.

British citizens flown from China to be monitored in Milton Keynes on arrival

Around 150 British Citizens are being flown from Wuhan City in China, the epicentre of the current outbreak of Novel Coronavirus, back to the United Kingdom on Sunday 9 February.

Everyone being repatriated will be assessed before boarding the plane in China, monitored during the flight and will continue to be monitored after landing in the UK.

A facility at Kents Hill Park in Milton Keynes is being used to house these returning citizens and they will remain at the site in isolation for 14 days. During this time their health will be regularly assessed.

This is the second facility of this type that has been set up in the UK following the successful repatriation to Arrowe Park Hospital in the Wirral last month.

The isolation of the guests in Milton Keynes is being undertaken as a highly precautionary measure as they have been at the epicentre of the outbreak and at increased risk of exposure to the virus.

The presence of this group in Milton Keynes does not present any risk to local people. No one showing symptoms of the novel coronavirus infection (2019-nCoV) would have been allowed to board the plane when it was in China.

During their time in Milton Keynes, the group will be regularly assessed by highly experienced healthcare professionals and will be provided with support to meet any social and emotional needs during their stay. All staff working at the facility will be wearing appropriate protective equipment at all times. Anyone showing symptoms of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) will be assessed and if appropriate undergo testing for the virus.

The local site has been chosen because it offers appropriate accommodation and other facilities for those coming back from Wuhan while they stay in Milton Keynes. It also allows their health to be regularly monitored and has the necessary medical facilities close at hand should they be required.

The process of repatriation has been led by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, with the advice of the Chief Medical Officer, and the support of the Department of Health and Social Care, the NHS and Public Health England.

The UK is well prepared for these types of incidents and there is rapid and effective testing undertaken by PHE available for this virus. The NHS has expert teams of highly-trained staff and specialist hospital units around the country ready to receive and care for any patients with any highly infectious disease. The NHS adheres to the highest safety standards for the protection of its staff, patients and the public.

Based on current evidence, Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) presents with flu-like symptoms including a fever, a cough, or difficulty breathing. The current evidence is that most cases appear to be mild.

There is more information and advice on Novel Coronavirus on the Government’s website at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/wuhan-novel-coronavirus-information-for-the-public

Frequently asked questions

  1. Are staff entering the facility where the groups are being kept required to wear full PPE?

Staff entering the facility are taking appropriate infection prevention and control precautions including wearing appropriate PPE.

  1. The people who drove the buses that transported the group were not wearing PPE – does this pose a risk to the wider community?

Seating arrangements ensured that the drivers were not in close contact with the passengers on the journey, which meant they were not at risk and did not require PPE. Close contact means being within two metres of an infected person for at least fifteen minutes. The measures we put in place to address this were to block off five rows at the front and boarding the drivers last. The drivers do not pose a risk to public health as a result of driving these passengers to their accommodation and should go about their daily lives as normal. 

  1. If NHS staff need to enter the site, will they be provided with full PPE?

Staff entering the facility are taking appropriate infection prevention and control precautions including wearing appropriate PPE provided by the facility. 

  1. Are those who have been repatriated being assessed daily by a medical team?

There is an onsite clinical team and checks are being made daily on all those in the facility 

  1. Is the site being regularly cleaned to help stop the spread of infection?

Appropriate cleaning is being undertaken onsite. 

  1. Why was this site chosen?

The local site has been chosen because it offers appropriate accommodation and other facilities for those coming back from Wuhan while they stay in Milton Keynes. It also allows the health of those in the group to be regularly monitored and has the necessary medical facilities close at hand should they be required.

  1. There are schools in the area, do these people pose a risk?

This group being repatriated will be kept in isolation on the site and so they pose no risk to the wider community, including any school children.

  1. If they test negative, will they be allowed to leave?

As the incubation period is 14 days, people may still develop the virus even after an initial test. They will therefore be asked to remain at the facility until day 14. 

  1. What will happen if they test positive?

If a result does come back positive they will be isolated appropriately and receive the necessary specialist care within the NHS.

Medication stolen from ambulance in Southampton

Medication stolen from ambulance in Southampton

South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SCAS) is appealing for information to help the police find a man who stole medication from one of the Trust’s ambulances on Thursday, 23 January.

Towards the end of a night shift, an ambulance crew had been sent to a patient’s home on Craven Street, Southampton, at 4:20am. Having been able to treat the patient at home, the crew returned to their vehicle around an hour later and found that a man had broken into it and was proceeding to take items from the vehicle.

When challenged, he ran off.

The crew discovered a number of packets and bottles of medication (similar to those shown in the photo below) had been taken.

If anyone has information about this incident, or saw a male running on or in the vicinity of Craven Street around 5:30am yesterday, SCAS would urge them to contact Hampshire Police by calling 101 using reference number 44200027531.

Paul Jefferies, Assistant Director of Operations at SCAS, said:

“It is absolutely deplorable that someone should break into an ambulance and take medication that our staff need to ensure they can give patients the very best care. Whilst I am grateful that neither member of the crew were injured in any way, nor the vehicle damaged, I would urge the community to help Hampshire Police find this individual.

Whilst in this instance the patient’s care wasn’t affected in any way, this could easily have been a different story as the medication taken is used to treat life-threatening conditions and provide severe pain relief.”

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