County Durham residents who are at high risk of becoming very unwell with coronavirus are being advised to take extra precautions throughout the second lockdown.
Durham County Council, alongside its partners in the NHS, is writing to those who remain clinically extremely vulnerable to remind them of government guidance and the support that is available locally.
Residents in the highest risk category should stay at home as much possible, work from home if they can, avoid any non-essential travel by private or public transport and avoid going to any shops or pharmacies.
While residents can still go outside for exercise, they should do so with members of their household, their support bubble or one other person from another household only.
They should also continue to attend any hospital and GP appointments unless they are told otherwise by a GP.
People who need help to travel to a healthcare appointment during lockdown should contact their healthcare professional who can arrange transport support.
For anyone whose child is extremely vulnerable, their clinician will be advising whether they should stay at home from school and undertake their schoolwork remotely.
However, people living with a child who is extremely vulnerable can still attend work if they cannot work from home, and siblings can still attend school, in line with the wider rules set out in the new national restrictions from 5 November.
Although these measures could make it difficult for those who are vulnerable to access essential supplies and engage in social contact, the council is also reassuring residents that help and support continues to be available.
People are advised to seek help from friends, family and neighbours where possible, but anyone in need of extra support can find a list of local groups on the council’s website www.durhamlocate.org.uk or fill in our coronavirus help form at www.durham.gov.uk/covid19help.
They can also contact County Durham Together, the community hub operated by the council to make sure residents can access the help and support they need.
The hub can help with essential food supplies, accessing online supermarket shopping slots, and any questions regarding money, housing, health and employment linked to coronavirus, self-isolation or lockdown.
It also offers a chat together service to combat the loneliness that can often be felt when having to self-isolate or remain at home.
To contact the hub, residents should call 03000 260 260 or email [email protected]
Residents are also being reminded of the importance of having their flu vaccine to protect themselves, their family and their community. More information about how to access this can be found at www.nhs.uk/conditions/flu.
Cllr Lucy Hovvels MBE, Cabinet member for adult and health services, said: “We do understand that these are challenging times for everyone, however it is vital that we all do our best to stop the spread of coronavirus and save lives. The most effective way of doing that is to follow the latest guidelines and public health advice.
“We would also like to reassure our residents that support is there and they shouldn’t feel like they are coping alone through this second lockdown. Whether people need to access essentials, or are feeling lonely and isolated, our community hub is there for anyone who needs it, as are many other local community groups and organisations, so please don’t hesitate to make contact should you need to.”
Meanwhile, County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service is offering support to residents through their Safe and Wellbeing Visits. This includes checking people have working smoke alarms, advice on using electrical items and planning a safe escape in an emergency. Residents who would like a fire safety check can call the Community Safety Team on 0345 223 4221.
Northumbria Water is also offering a range of free Priority Services to all customers. Support can range from bottled water if a water supply is interrupted for an extended period, to a password scheme providing peace of mind that callers to a home, in person or on the phone, are genuine. Residents can sign up at www.nwl.co.uk/priority.
For the latest information regarding coronavirus, including more advice and support on how to look after mental health in these challenging times, residents should visit www.durham.gov.uk.