Community Connectors 25 March 2021
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Countdown to relaxed restrictions

On Monday 29 March, the next stage of the lockdown is set to take effect with greater social contact allowed outdoors.
From Monday, outdoor gatherings (including in private gardens) of either six people (the ‘Rule of six’) or two households will also be allowed.
Outdoor sports facilities, such as tennis and basketball courts, and open-air swimming pools, will also be allowed to reopen, and people will be able to take part in formally organised outdoor sports.
Despite these welcome changes, and the ‘stay at home’ rule ending, many restrictions will remain in place. You should continue to work from home where you can and minimise the number of journeys you make where possible, avoiding travel at the busiest times and routes. Travel abroad will continue to be prohibited, other than for a small number of permitted reasons.
Public Health England (PHE) is producing new social media materials you can share with your contacts to remind people of the restrictions that remain in place.
Download the latest PHE lockdown resources.

Update on shielding advice for the clinically extremely vulnerable

Last week, the Government has announced that clinically extremely vulnerable people will no longer be advised to shield from 1 April 2021, as infection rates and hospitalisations continue to fall.

Letters with updated guidance are being sent to shielders. The letters set out practical steps shielders are advised to follow to reduce their risk of catching the virus, including continuing to maintain strict social distancing and keeping their overall social contacts at low levels, such as working from home where possible.

We will continue to provide support for those shielding until 31 March 2021. If people have already registered for priority access to supermarket delivery slots, they will continue to be able to access these until 21 June 2021.

View the latest shielding advice.

Vaccination news

A total of 52,492 people across the Sevenoaks District were vaccinated between 8 December 2020 and 21 March. 7,619 people received their first vaccination in the last week.
Across Kent and Medway, 865,741 doses of the vaccine were given up to 21 March 2021.

COVID-19 infection data

The case rate in the Sevenoaks District to 18 March was 26.5 per 100,000, the same as the previous week.  This is slightly above the case rate of 25, which is the level that the DPH has determined it will be safe to lift lockdown. However, it is still significantly lower than that of the England rate, at 56.0, which is continuing to fall each week. 
There are currently 45 active cases in the District, a rise of just 3 from 11 March. Given the significant increase in pupil and staff testing in the previous 2 weeks, a rise is not wholly unexpected and there are similar increases in 6 other Kent districts. According to KCC, the cases are associated with clusters in residential dwellings.

View the latest national COVID-19 data.

UK regulator confirms we should continue to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine

Following a rigorous scientific review of all the available data, published 18 March, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) confirmed that the available evidence does not suggest that blood clots in veins are caused by the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine.

This follows a detailed review of report cases as well as data from hospital admissions and GP records.

The MHRA’s advice remains that the benefits of the vaccines against coronavirus continue to outweigh any risks and that the public should continue to get their vaccine when invited to do so.

View the AstraZeneca announcement in full.

PHE study shows three-quarters of over 70s have Coronavirus antibodies 

Last week (17 March), Public Health England published new findings showing that an estimated 76% of 70 to 84-year-old blood donors had antibodies against Coronavirus by early March.

The study found that the proportion of over 70s with vaccine antibodies started to increase from early January. This is in line with expectations as it takes two to three weeks to produce an antibody response after vaccination.

Conversely, the proportion with antibodies resulting from natural infection started to plateau at the same time, suggesting that the vaccine is preventing older people from getting Coronavirus.

The group with the highest proportion of antibodies after natural infection are the 16 to 29-year-olds, indicating ongoing infection and transmission in younger people.

View details of the latest antibody research.

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