CWaC Small Business COVID-19 Asymptomatic Testing Programme.

If you are a business owner with fewer than 250 employees the message below from CWaC may be of interest to you:

Dear Business owner,

We appreciate that this may not be relevant to all business owners whose staff are unable to work due to national restrictions, however for those who are still operating and whose staff are unable to work from home, please find below an offer regarding a new testing programme. In line with the Government’s Community Testing Programme, CW&C are planning to provide asymptomatic testing (testing for people without symptoms) for Covid-19 for employees of small businesses (under 250 employees) who are unable to work from home. (Larger employers are able to access support through the National programme by emailing their company name, registration number, contact details and sector type, along with the number of employees to P-and-PSector@dhsc.gov.uk with ‘Register interest for National Worker Programme’ in the subject line).

Up to a 1/3 of people who test positive for coronavirus have no symptoms and can therefore spread it unknowingly. Testing of asymptomatic individuals is an important additional tool to identify more people with the virus, and support them with self-isolation to stop the spread of the virus through communities and businesses, helping to ensure business continuity.

Early identification of infectious but asymptomatic employees will help to:

• break chains of transmission sooner
• reduce infection rates
• enable people to live and work safely during the pandemic

There are two options for testing:

1. Employees to attend a testing site in Cheshire West twice a week to take a test These are currently located at Winsford Lifestyle Centre and Stanney Lane former leisure centre in Ellesmere Port. Others are due to open in the coming months.

2. Businesses to be trained and supported so that your own staff will be able to oversee testing on your premises. This would involve a half day training session with CW&C, the provision of a dedicated space in which testing could take place in a socially-distanced way and tests analysed, in line with NHS guidelines, the collection of testing kits from CW&C, the registering and logging of test results on the Government portal, and removal of clinical waste (for which waste removal companies charge).

Watch: How to carry out a coronavirus test at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yH2rgPUdgac

It would be helpful if you could complete the short questionnaire at https://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/Covid-19AsymptomaticTestingforSmallBusinesses/ to tell us your preference for testing employees who are unable to work from home. This would help us to plan for the expansion of the testing sites to meet demand, and to provide sufficient training resources.

We need to move at pace to progress both options so responses by 5pm Wednesday 3rd February would be appreciated.

If you have any queries, please contact Rachel Zammit via email: PublicHealth@cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk

Many Thanks Regulatory Services

Funding for Local Groups

Please find details of a recent Government announcement which may be of interest to local community groups and please feel free to circulate as appropriate:

Local Connections Fund will be open to charities and interest groups that reduce social isolation.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/community-groups-tackling-loneliness-to-benefit-from-4m-fund

Book clubs, walking groups and other community projects will be able to apply for a £4 million fund designed to help reduce loneliness in the coming months.

The Local Connections Fund – made up of £2 million from the Government and £2 million from The National Lottery Community Fund – will be used for hundreds of small grants worth between £300 and £2,500.

These investments are designed to help local organisations bring people and communities together as the country recovers from the coronavirus pandemic.

The Local Connections Fund will be split into two rounds of funding – each with its own application window, one in January 2021 and one in the summer 2021.

Funding will be available to small charities and community groups in England with an annual income of £50,000 or less, which are working to reduce loneliness by helping people feel more connected. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport will provide the first round of funding, totalling £2 million, and this will open for applications on 5 January 2021.

Avian Influenza outbreaks

Local:

Premises near Frodsham, Cheshire

Avian influenza (HPAI) of the H5N8 strain was confirmed at a premises near Frodsham in Cheshire which rears broiler breeder chickens on 2 November 2020. On the 3 November further testing confirmed this to be a high pathogenicity strain (HPAI H5N8).  A 3km Protection Zone and a 10km Surveillance Zone have been put in place around the infected premises to limit the risk of the disease spreading. Public Health England (PHE) advises that the risk to public health from the virus is very low and the Food Standards Agency advises that avian influenzas pose a very low food safety risk for UK consumers. Properly cooked poultry and poultry products, including eggs, are safe to eat.

Further details can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/avian-influenza-bird-flu#movement-controls-and-licences

https://www.yourwestcheshire.co.uk/NewsArticle/%7B47F01839-50B6-4CEF-B60F-714BA53281EC%7D

National:

*The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) are posting and tweeting about the latest updates on Avian influenza.  Please share any relevant posts via your social media channels to help communicate the key messages and restrictions:

Gov.uk news story – https://www.gov.uk/government/news/avian-influenza-bird-flu-national-prevention-zone-declared

Message from Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA)

Top lines:

  • An Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) has been declared across the whole of England to mitigate the risk of the disease spreading
  • This means it is a legal requirement for all bird keepers to follow strict biosecurity measures.
  • The risk level of avian influenza incursion in wild birds in Great Britain has been raised from ‘medium to ‘high’ following two unrelated confirmed cases in England this week and increasing reports of the disease affecting flocks in mainland Europe.
  • Public Health England has confirmed that the risk to public health is very low and the Food Standards Agency has said that bird flu poses a very low food safety risk for UK consumers. 
  • Bird keepers should remain alert for any signs of disease, report suspected disease immediately and ensure they are maintaining good biosecurity on their premises. 
  • Avian Influenza is in no way connected to the COVID-19 pandemic which is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus which is not carried in poultry.

Biosecurity actions for poultry keepers (both commercial and recreational/back yard keepers)

The prevention zone means bird keepers across the country must:

  • Ensure the areas where birds are kept are unattractive to wild birds, for example by netting ponds, and by removing wild bird food sources;
  • Feed and water your birds in enclosed areas to discourage wild birds;
  • Minimise movement in and out of bird enclosures;
  • Clean and disinfect footwear and keep areas where birds live clean and tidy;
  • Reduce any existing contamination by cleansing and disinfecting concrete areas, and fencing off wet or boggy areas.

The prevention zone will be in place until further notice and will be kept under regular review as part of our work to monitor the threat of bird flu.

Poultry keepers and members of the public should report dead wild birds to the Defra helpline on 03459 33 55 77 and keepers should report suspicion of disease to APHA on 03000 200 301. Keepers should familiarise themselves with our avian flu advice.

Wild birds:

  • There have been a number of confirmed reports of avian influenza in wild birds including geese and swans in the Netherlands and northern Germany in recent weeks. These wild birds are all on the waterfowl flyway from breeding grounds in western Russia, where the H5N8 strain was reported in poultry in mid-October.
  • Wild birds migrating to the UK from mainland Europe during the winter period can spread the disease to poultry and other captive birds.
  • All bird keepers and members of the public are being urged to prevent direct or indirect contact with wild birds.
  • Public Health England (PHE) advises that the risk to public health from the virus is very low and the Food Standards Agency advises that avian influenzas pose a very low food safety risk for UK consumers. Properly cooked poultry and poultry products, including eggs, are safe to eat.


Chief Veterinary Officer Christine Middlemiss said:

“It is important now more than ever that bird keepers ensure they are doing all they can to maintain and strengthen biosecurity measures on their premises to prevent further outbreaks.

“Public Health England has confirmed that the risk to public health is very low and the Food Standards Agency advises that bird flu poses a very low food safety risk for UK consumers. “We ask that people continue to report findings of dead wild birds so that we can investigate the extent of infection.”