On Monday, the easing of lockdown meant that for the first time in months there were new freedoms – drinking indoors in pubs, hugs with loved ones, and foreign holidays. However, because of the spread of the India variant of the virus – now in London, Essex and East Kent as well as in the north – optimism has been tempered by government messages of the need for caution.
Despite this, the prime minister has said that there is “nothing conclusive” yet in the data that means England “would have to deviate from the roadmap” out of lockdown. The government says that the situation is “under close review”, to determine both whether the India variant is more transmissible and “to the extent that the vaccine programme has fortified us”. Expect to hear lots more about this in future days.
Despite the variant creating hotspots in some parts of England, such as Bolton, the national infection figures remain fairly stable with daily Covid related deaths now in single figures and daily new cases under 3,000.
Going on holiday
There have been mixed central messages about overseas travel. The traffic light system has just a few “green light” countries, but many more on the “amber list” (subject to testing and quarantine rules) – and some ministers have been dampening down expectations of widespread renewed foreign travel this summer by encouraging people to stay in Britain and not to fly abroad. The government message appears to be that travellers should NOT go abroad to those countries in the “amber list” unless it is for “pressing family or business reasons”.
A vaccine passport
For travellers to demonstrate that they have been vaccinated, it is possible to log in to the NHS App to access the equivalent of a vaccine passport. For those who do not have online access, a paper version is available by calling 119.
Work has continued at pace to establish a vaccination facility in the Tilling Green community centre in Rye. The Ticehurst pharmacists who are providing the clinical lead, have been balancing the management of their Ticehurst facility with work on the new one. Volunteers and professionals are being recruited and briefed online, IT systems set up, and NHS supplies ordered and stored. The centre will deliver Pfizer through the NHS national booking system. The advice is that if you want to use the Rye facility, then persevere with the booking system as Rye may not appear straight away in the location options.
Because of the way that Pfizer is handled (see my article last week) there may be a small amount of vaccine available at the end of each operational day. If this is not used, then it could time expire. To ensure that every dose of vaccine is used, a list for “end of day” patients will be maintained. These will be people who want the vaccine, but are not yet listed in the programme. Details for registration will be posted on the @Ryepfizer Facebook page.
The Rye service will complement the other services already in place in our area (GP surgeries, Etchingham, the Hastings Kings Centre, the Ore pharmacy as well as those further afield) and will provide an additional and convenient capacity, not only for those in Rye and district, but also for any others for whom booking in Rye better suits.
Voluntary and paid roles
It is emphasised that Rye still needs volunteers to work effectively and there are various voluntary and paid roles:
– Marshals: briefing given
– Registration: training provided, but needs people with IT skills
– Pfizer vaccinators: retired or current clinicians, or pharmacists, or dentists, or those recently trained for this role; need to complete online training package (paid role)
– Cleaning: local arrangements (paid role)
– Refreshments: volunteers who know the Tilling Green centre.
PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD AND ADVISE names to firstname.lastname@example.org or to the @ryepfizer Facebook page, or to 07414 617484 or 07984 930315..
We emphasise that there is no fixed commitment for volunteers. Any time offered will be welcomed. Subject to solving all the logistic issues, the centre should open on Thursday, May 27.
And don’t forget – Hands, Face, Space
With more people expected to visit the local area, the message remains that people must “not drop their guard”. Caution is still required, certainly until the guidance changes. Please remember – Hands, Face and Space….and fresh air is safer then enclosed space.
Image Credits: Anthony Kimber .