Coronavirus - high levels of virus transmission in the community mean people should not head outdoors, says Oxfordshire health boss
High levels of coronavirus transmission in the Oxfordshire community mean residents must resist the temptation to enjoy better weather outside their homes.
That is the plea of the county's Public Health Director, Ansaf Azhar as NHS and other health organisations in Oxfordshire work to respond to the coronavirus pandemic with its increasing and changing demands on services.
Mr Azhar said: "There is now high level of Coronavirus transmission in the community and it is really important to stay indoors to protect yourself and others. The peak of the Coronavirus situation in the UK is likely to be in the next week or two and if people relax now, they run the risk of substantially increasing the rate of infection and overwhelming our NHS. Please abide by the rules and stay at home to protect yourself, protect the NHS and save lives.
"We’re in April now, the evenings are lighter and there’ll be a huge temptation for people to head outdoors and enjoy the countryside. My advice: stay indoors and do not increase the risk to you and others, including your loved ones. It is essential that you follow this guidance. Find the latest advice and information about Coronavirus (COVID-19) from the government at GOV.UK/coronavirus.”
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Health bosses say you do not need to contact the NHS if you think you have coronavirus. You can visit NHS online and use the 111 coronavirus service to get support and advice. Only call 111 if you feel you cannot handle your symptoms at home or you do not have internet access; if needs be you may be directed to a COVID-19 clinic in the community. This approach will free up help for those who most need it.
If you do have a medical problem that isn’t coronavirus related please contact your GP in the normal way. All GP appointments will initially be on the telephone. The GP will do all they can to help you over the phone – however, should they feel the need to see you face to face for an examination, you will be invited to the surgery for review. Do not go into your GP practice in person without prior agreement. Please use these services responsibly and appropriately to ensure people with the most need receive care during the pandemic.
The Government has said the only reasons to leave home are to shop for basic necessities, pick up medicines, travel to work when you absolutely cannot work from home and exercise once a day - along or with members of your household. If you go out, stay two metres away from other people at all times and wash your hands as soon as you get home for at least 20 seconds.
Dr Kiren Collison, GP and Clinical Chair of Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “I would like to say thank you to everyone who is staying at home and taking the required precautions at this time.
"If you do need help or advice then we are still here for you but we would like to ask people to use GP services appropriately so that we are able to look after those who need our care the most. We will do all we can to help you over the phone or video - however, should we feel the need to see you face to face for an examination, we will arrange that.”
Sam Foster, Chief Nursing Officer at Oxford University Hospital-NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Staying at home wherever possible is one of the best ways to keep you and those around you safe. It also plays a vital part in helping all of our staff treat people. By staying at home, you reduce the number of people needing hospital treatment at any one time. This means we can focus on those who really need us and protect both our patients and our staff to the best of our abilities.”