Hello and welcome to the 42nd issue of this regular Sunday email. I hope you find its contents interesting and informative. As usual, do get in touch with me if you have any news or information that you think Topcliffe and Asenby residents might like to hear about.
The week’s Covid statistics
• 33,552 people in the UK tested positive for Coronavirus yesterday. Almost 260,000 people tested positive over a seven-day period. New cases of Coronavirus have again fallen by 25% in the last week.
• 665,330 virus tests were conducted on a daily basis, with 3,947,000 undertaken during the week to Saturday.
• 4,125 people were admitted to hospital on a daily basis (27,721 in the week). Hospital admissions have remained high, but experts are predicting a reduction starting this coming week.
• The R number – which takes into account cases, hospitalisations and deaths – is estimated to be between 0.8 and 1, compared with 1.2 and 1.3 last week. That’s a great improvement.
• Over 5,861,000 people have now had a first dose vaccination. So far, 468,600 second doses have been administered.
• On Saturday 1,348 UK deaths were reported. There were 8,739 in the seven-day period to Saturday. Both these figures are increases on the previous week. So far during the pandemic, close to
97,329 deaths have been recorded.
• Worldwide, the number of deaths is now over 2,130,000.
Infected people failing to follow rules on self-isolation
Government checks have revealed some worrying information about how people are dealing with infections during the pandemic:
- Only 17% of people with symptoms are putting themselves forward for testing.
- Just 25% comply with rules to self-isolate for 10 days after testing positive.
- 15% continue to go to work as normal.
These shocking statistics come despite the fact that experts are clear that compliance with self-isolation orders is needed to bring down Covid-19 transmission levels. Acknowledging the findings of the survey, the Prime Minister urged people to obey the current restrictions in what is unquestionably going to be a tough few weeks ahead. Asked whether lockdown might be lifted in the spring or summer, Mr Johnson said: "I think it’s too early to say when we’ll be able to lift any of the restrictions.”
Follow this link to read all about the government’s stay at home and isolation guidance:
Three bits of good news on vaccinations this week. First, the number of people to receive their first jab has now reached 5.8million and nearly half a million people have had the second vaccination. Secondly, the vaccination process has been going so well that those over 70 years of age have started to receive an invitation for their jab. Thirdly, with the opening of the ‘hub’ at Askham Bar in York, we now have the chance of being invited to one of two locations for our jabs – York or Northallerton.
The bad news – though there is considerable confusion In government communication about this – is that the North East and Yorkshire region has been told its vaccine supply to primary care vaccine centres (like The Forum at Northallerton) will be halved next week. Apparently, this is because our region is ahead of other areas in vaccinating its eligible population. Only 100,000 doses will be made available next week, down from around 200,000 this last week. So, because we have vaccinated a greater percentage of our residents, including very many of the over 80s and are quickly moving on to groups under 80, we are being penalised. Data published a week ago indicated 46 per cent of over 80s had received a first dose, compared to 29 per cent in the East of England and 31 per cent in London. Changing the level of supply to our region is obviously a major frustration, especially as it had set up the capacity to administer tens of thousands more jabs than they will now be able to. We’ve all heard about suggested manufacture and delivery difficulties, but it is difficult to see the logic of a decision to curb a successful administering process. If this is true, it how does this fit in with the declared hope of giving more than two million doses each week?
I’m not sure whether this next point is good or bad news, but we’ll be able to decide in the next week or so. The government decided to delay the date of second Pfizer-BioNTech jabs so that more people could have a first vaccination. Against manufacturer’s advice they extended to 12 weeks the period between injections. Prof Chris Whitty said extending the maximum wait from three to 12 weeks was a "public health decision" to get the first jab to more people across the UK. Not everyone was happy about this and there have been concerns expressed that the delay may impact the value of the vaccination. Now senior doctors at the British Medical Association are calling on England’s chief medical officer to cut the gap between the first and second doses stating the delay is "difficult to justify" and should be changed to six weeks. The World Health Organisation has also waded in and suggested the delay should be no more than four weeks.
Finally, on vaccinations, the Deputy Chief Medical Officer has now confirmed that people who have received a Covid-19 vaccine could still pass the virus on to others and should continue following lockdown rules. Prof Jonathan Van-Tam stressed that scientists "do not yet know the impact of the vaccine on transmission".
Remember, the NHS will let you know when it’s your turn to have the vaccine. It’s important not to contact the NHS or your doctor’s surgery for a vaccination before then. Topcliffe patients will either be contacted by letter or telephone call from the surgery.
Some reluctance to vaccination
New research by the Office of National Statistics suggests the older a person is, the more likely they are to intend to take up a coronavirus vaccine.
- 81% of people aged 16-29 said they would be very likely or fairly likely to take up an offered vaccine.
- 98% of adults aged 70 and over would take up the offer.
- 89% -of all respondents said they would be very likely or fairly likely to have the vaccine if offered.
- Around one in 20 (5%) are very or fairly unlikely to accept the vaccine. Most of those reluctant to get the jab said they were worried about potential long-term health effects.
The research also suggests there has been a slight gradual increase in positive attitudes towards getting vaccinated.
The mystery of being asymptomatic and a silent virus spreader
When chatting with a Sunday Email reader the other day the word asymptomatic came into the conversation and my friend admitted he was unsure what the word meant and why it was so important in discussions about Covid-19 and the spread of the disease. That got me wondering if others might have difficulty with the term, one that is used regularly by government spokespeople, medical professionals and in news reports. So, what does asymptomatic mean and what is the issue?
As the Coronavirus crisis unfolded, scientists discovered evidence about a strange and worrying feature of the disease. While many people who become infected develop the classic symptoms – a cough, fever and loss of taste and smell – others have no symptoms at all and never realise they’re carrying Covid-19. We can all understand and come to terms with the idea that people can be infectious before their symptoms show, but it’s quite another matter when they become infected but never have any sign of it. And that’s where the term ‘silent spreaders’ originates – these people have no symptoms but are infected and can transmit the disease to anyone they come in to contact with. There are many stories about how asymptomatic people spread the virus in the early days of the pandemic, but the problem is still with us and we all know how easy it is for the virus to be passed around via droplets in our breath, coughs and sneezes. It’s thought that 1 in 3 people have Coronavirus without displaying symptoms and that’s why the government has recently launched Lateral Flow testing (see below) for key-workers without symptoms. This testing will identify more positive cases of Covid-19 and ensure those infected can be isolated. But as far as I am aware no asymptomatic testing sites have yet been set up In North Yorkshire. If I hear differently, I’ll include details in a future email.
Lateral Flow Test
These new tests are much quicker, giving a result in less than an hour, because they don’t have to be sent to a lab to be processed. The test involves a swab of the nose and throat to collect a sample, which is then inserted into a tube of liquid for a short time. Drops of liquid are added to the test strip and after about half an hour a result will be shown. These tests can help identify people who have high levels of the virus who do not have symptoms and would not otherwise be coming forward for a test. Experts admit they don’t yet know for sure how effective these tests are for detecting the virus in people who are in the early stages of the disease, but everyone agrees that getting results quicker is really important in speeding up the response to the virus.
Online supermarket shopping…and good hygiene practice
My friends and neighbours have been brilliant giving me support with shopping during the pandemic and I am really grateful for the help they have given me. Last week, for the first time ever, I ordered my groceries online and it was a doddle. Online ordering was so easy to do and although I imagined it would be difficult to get a delivery date, to my surprise there was plenty of availability at the store I chose – Morrisons. The delivery arrived a little later than planned but that wasn’t too much of a problem and the very pleasant driver cancelled the cost of plastic bags to compensate me. It wasn’t much but it was a good customer relations ploy, which I appreciated.
In organising my first delivery of groceries I recalled the media discussion in the first lockdown about the safety aspects of having stuff delivered to your home during the pandemic and it struck me that I hadn’t heard anything along these lines in recent times. You might have thought that with each lockdown, as online delivery requests increase, there’d be loads of information made available to the public to guide them and ensure their safety. But a quick search of the internet produced very little recent information, leaving me to wonder if the dangers had been dismissed or if people had simply become blasé about the practice and potential dangers.
Eventually, however, I found some sensible advice that although quite old, seems to still have some resonance. According to the World Health Organisation, the risk of catching Covid-19 from a package that has been moved, travelled, and exposed to different conditions and temperatures is very low. Despite the low risk of contamination, they suggest that anyone who feels in anyway anxious about the possibility of the virus spreading on food packaging, should use antibacterial wipes, diluted bleach or disinfectant spray before storing them away in the cupboards or fridge. For unwrapped fresh goods, which could have been handled by anyone, the advice is to wash thoroughly under running water and leave to dry. Alternatively, you can store products for 72 hours before using them but that seems a bit of a pain and wouldn’t work for fresh foods.
For those concerned about takeaway food packaging, the advice is clear: empty the contents into a clean dish, dispose of the packaging into a refuse bag, and eat the food with a knife and fork – not your fingers.
Finally, it is also important to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water after handling any packaging…and that goes for letter and parcel deliveries as well.
Book a coronavirus test locally
These are government operated ‘every day’ sites close to where we live. They operate 8am to 8pm. The full list of other sites operating in North Yorkshire can be viewed on the county council’s website at https://www.northyorks.gov.uk/book-coronavirus-covid-19-test
• Every day – Harrogate – Dragon Road Car Park, Dragon Road, Harrogate, HG1 5DB
• Every day – Northallerton – The Forum, Bullamore Road, Northallerton, DL6 1LP
Before you attend you must book a test. Tests can be booked from 8pm the night before. If test sites are fully booked they will not appear on the government’s website. To book a test visit: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/ There’s a link on the North Yorkshire County Council website to request a home test – https://www.northyorks.gov.uk/home-testing
Dorothy ‘Dot’ Arkley
It is with great sadness that I report the death of Dot Arkley of Jamesville Way, Asenby. Dot, aged 79, passed away in The Friarage Hospital on 13 January from complications stemming from cancer that she had suffered from for around eight years. Dot and her husband, Mel, have lived in Asenby for 18 years and before that lived in Dalton for 24 years. Dot and Mel have two sons, Timothy and Richard, both of whom have travelled home (one from Berkshire and the other from the USA) to be with their father at this sad time. Dot was a great supporter of the Topcliffe & Asenby Produce Show and she regularly entered embroidery, tapestry, jams and baking. For many years Dot was treasurer of the Topcliffe Carpet Bowls Club, which plays in the village hall. The funeral will be held at Harrogate Crematorium on Thursday 4 February. Because of the Covid restrictions it will be immediate family only. Please do not send flowers. If anyone would like to make a donation to Cancer Research or Macmillan Nurses, that would be very much appreciated. Mel would like to thank everyone who has sent a card and their good wishes. There’ll be more about Dot in the next edition of The Tattler in March.
Asenby Bus Stop Library
Message from the organisers, David and Heather Allon: The two existing bookcases are now overflowing and the library is taking up all of its allocated space – we must of course leave sufficient space for bus passengers. Recently someone kindly left six black bags of books, which we will sort to extract new titles to replace the older ones on the shelves, and the remainder will be disposed of. We cannot cope with huge volumes of books, so in future it would help if library users would only leave books if there is room on the bookcase shelves.
Hambleton District Council has launched Hambleton Heroes 2020. This is an opportunity for anyone to nominate an individual or an organisation who has gone above and beyond to help other people during the pandemic and lockdown. Please see the link to the webpage with a short and easy to complete nomination form.
Flood defences hold
Anyone who saw the photographs on the Top Residents Facebook site this week will realise just how close Swaleside Holiday Park came to being flooded and how hard lots of people worked to keep the river from inundating the site. It was touch and go for quite awhile, but everyone’s efforts saved the day. Park Managers Amanda Kenny and Andrew Balderson (yes, they’re still on site but due to move fairly soon) applied their long-earned knowledge and experience of the park and the river to plan and coordinate defence against the rising river levels. Afterwards, as the water still lapped at the sandbags but the real danger was over, the couple sang the praises of all those involved. They said: “We’d like to give heartfelt thanks to everyone who helped at Swaleside Holiday Park on Thursday. In particular to Josh Barningham, Adam Lowe, Chris from Half Moon House, Tim and Phil Brierley, Mark Fairweather… and to the Milk Churn Farm Shop for hot chocolate and cakes when the team needed them most! And a big thank you to Topcliffe Parish Council and to Parish Councillors Malc Morley and Jamie Moores for coming to the rescue with additional sandbags. Thank you Topcliffe.
Topcliffe Parish Council
The Parish Council will be meeting remotely on Thursday 4 February at 7pm. Any members of the public wishing to join this online meeting should contact the clerk for log in details – firstname.lastname@example.org There is a period of 10 minutes at the beginning of each meeting set aside to receive questions and comments from members of the public.
RSPB’s annual bird watch
There’s only a week to go. If you want to participate in the RSPB’s annual bird watch don’t forget to make a note on your calendar – it will take place between 29 and 31 January. 375,000 people have already signed up to take part. Anyone can join in and all you have to do is pick an hour during which you will monitor and count the birds in your own garden. All you have to do is count the birds that land in your garden…but you should ignore any birds that are still in flight. The results can be submitted online at www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch from 29 January until 19 February. Every count is important so, even if you don’t see anything you are asked to tell the RSPB. Apparently, finding out which birds don’t visit your area is as important as understanding those which do!
Safer Internet Day – 9 February
To mark Safer Internet Day, North Yorkshire Police will be hosting another of the popular online ’Ask the Experts’ evenings, this time to offer some insight into the tricks scammers use to manipulate their victims. The event will be conducted using Microsoft Teams and those registering to take part will be emailed a link prior to the date. You do not need to have Microsoft Teams installed on your computer to participate, just a good internet link. To register for the event please click on this link https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/internet-safety-day-ask-the-experts-north-yorkshire-police-tickets-135979661829
- Tea Time Yorkshire – Rosa Fothergill, who runs Tea Time Yorkshire café in Thirsk, is offering Valentine’s Afternoon Teas and Treat boxes for delivery on the weekend of 13 and 14 February. Full Afternoon Tea for two £36 and Valentine’s Treat Box for two £24, including delivery. Please order online by Sunday 7 February. https://www.teatimeyorkshire.co.uk/valentinesafternoontea
- Fish and Chips – The Fish & Chip van is back in action Fridays between 4 and 7pm.
- Topcliffe Post Office – The opening hours are: weekdays 7.30am – 3:30pm for the shop and 8:30am – 3.30pm for the post office counter. Saturdays – 8.30 – 11.30am. Sunday closed.
- News from The Elm Gallery – The gallery remains closed. Liz and Dave will continue to promote items on the gallery’s Facebook page and website. Collection of purchases at the gallery door can be arranged. More information can be found on their website at www.the-elm-gallery.co.uk and they can be contacted on 01845 577316 or 07709 223920.
- The Milk Churn Farm Shop – The farm shop is open but no takeaway drinks are being served during lockdown. Fresh bread arrives daily. Customers can only enter the shop one at a time, they must wear a mask and are asked not to handle products they don’t intend to buy. For their part, the staff will clean the baskets, door handles and other surfaces on a regular basis. Meat, fruit and vegetable baskets can be delivered to any Topcliffe and Asenby residents who are isolating or collected in person by arrangement. Telephone 01845 400446 to order and agree a time. https://www.milkchurnfarmshop.co.uk/
- The Angel – Because of the lockdown The Angel has had to close its doors. The Angel at Home takeaway service is operating with a new menu and reduced prices. Take away times are Wednesday to Saturday, 4.30-8pm, with orders taken from 3.30pm and Sundays 12-6pm, with orders taken from 11am. Call 01845 578000 to place an order or book a time slot in advance. Check out the details at www.theangelattopcliffe.co.uk
- The Swan – The Swan is closed until further notice…hopefully, not too long!
St. Columba’s Church
Topcliffe St Columba’s PCC has agreed that the following service will be held:
• Evensong at 6.30pm on Sunday, 7 February at St Columba’s Church, Topcliffe.
• No services will be held on Sunday 24 January or Sunday 31 January.
A great deal of work has been done on risk assessments for these services and strict measures will be in place for wearing of face masks, hand sanitisation before and after each service, and social distancing. Please observe spaced time of arrival and departure to avoid mingling. Any changes in the rules or legislation regarding church opening and services will be included in a future email.
• Recycling – Thursday 28 January and 11 February 2021
• Refuse – Mondays 1 and 15 February 2021.
• Green waste – collections recommence Thursday 25 February 2021
• Recycling – Mondays 1 and 15 February
• Refuse – Mondays 25 January and 8 February 2021 (sorry about missing out the times and dates of refuse collection in last week’s message)
• Green waste – suspended until mid-March
Green waste licence renewal
Subscriptions for new licences from both councils for 2021-22 are now being taken.
Subscriptions for a new Hambleton licence for the year 2021-22 will cost £40 per licence per bin. To subscribe or for further information please visit www.hambleton.gov.uk/newbins
Subscriptions for a new licence from Harrogate District Council for 2021-22 will cost £41 per bin. You will receive nineteen fortnightly collections – that’s around £2 per collection. To subscribe or for more information please visit
That’s all for this week. Keep safe and remain well.