Hello and welcome to the 45th issue of this regular Sunday email. It’s Valentine’s Day and I hope that you have a very happy day with your loved ones…and if you know someone who is alone at this time, give them a call and say hello.
I hope you find this email’s 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
• 4,400,044 Covid tests were conducted last week. On average on a daily basis over the week, 13,300 people tested positive for Covid. 97.272 people tested positive over the seven-days. The number of
new cases of Covid again fell by 25% compared to the previous week.
• 1,741 people were admitted to hospital on a daily basis (13,852 in the week). Hospital admissions remain high in some areas though the signs are that the pressure lid has been lifted.
• The R number – which takes into account cases, hospitalisations and deaths – has dropped again and is now between 0.7 and 0.9, which is very encouraging.
• Nearly 14.6 million people have now had a first dose vaccination. So far, 535,0000 second doses have been administered.
• Yesterday 621 UK deaths were reported. There were 4,816 in the seven-day period to Saturday. This represents a 26% drop on the previous week. The total number of UK deaths is now 116,908. The
number of deaths in North Yorkshire has now passed 1,000. Worldwide, the number of deaths is now over 2.4 million.
The vaccination programme has been extremely successful with nearly 14.6 million people receiving their first injection up to yesterday, meaning the government is likely to reach projected its target to vaccinate the vast majority of the most vulnerable people by Monday. Here in North Yorkshire more than 175,000 first doses have been administered.
The NHS is now planning to roll out the next stage of the biggest vaccination programme in the country’s history. The next group to be called for vaccination will be over 65s and 16-64 year olds with underlying health conditions. There’s about 7.3 million people in these two priority groups. After that those 60-64, 55-59 and 50-54 will be in turn invited for their jabs.
Right now, there’s a renewed drive to encourage people in the top four priority groups – people aged 70 and over, front-line health and social care workers, care home residents and the clinically extremely vulnerable – to get vaccinated. Also those who have declined a jab but have changed their mind, are invited to book a slot by calling 119 or going online – https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination/book-coronavirus-vaccination/. Only people in the forementioned categories should enquire about their jabs – everyone else should wait until they are contacted by the NHS when it’s their turn to have the vaccine. It’s important not to contact the NHS or your doctor’s surgery for a vaccination before then. Topcliffe and Asenby patients will either be contacted by letter, text or telephone call from the surgery.
Children as young as six will be given the Oxford AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine as part of a clinical trial to test the efficacy in youngsters. Researchers will use 300 volunteers to assess whether the jab can produce a strong immune response in children aged from six to 17. Andrew Pollard, professor of paediatric infection and immunity, and chief investigator on the Oxford vaccine trial, said the study was "important to establish the safety and immune response to the vaccine in children and young people as some children may benefit from vaccination.“
Arthritis drug will help critically ill Covid patients
Severely ill Covid patients may soon be treated with arthritis drug Tocilizumab, after a newly published study shows it can decrease the risk of death. The drug is set to be recommended for all Covid-19 patients who require oxygen starting next week. Tocilizumab is a drug typically given to patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. It is administered to patients intravenously, as you would do with a bag of saline, and it is likely that it will be used alongside the steroid dexamethasone, which has been used to treat Covid patients for several months. Together, the combination of drugs helps the body’s defences against the disease. Scientists say the drug could save the lives of one in 25 patients admitted to hospital with Covid and reduce the need for a mechanical ventilator. Studies also found it could reduce the time spent in hospital by up to 10 days.
Restrictions and Lockdown
The government will review the existing restrictions tomorrow, 15 February, and week commencing 22 February it has promised to set out a ‘roadmap’ showing how we will get back to normality. But don’t get too excited yet as many scientific experts are warning the government not to end lockdown too soon or too quickly. Sir Jeremy Farrar, a member of the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said on Wednesday that "it doesn’t make any sense to set out plans to ease restrictions with arbitrary dates in March or April. The data has to drive the decision". He added that transmission is still very high and that cases needed to fall well below 10,000 a day before any easing of lockdown measures.
Infection rates across North Yorkshire are reducing but very slowly and the county is still seeing more than 125 new cases a day.
We are living through a life-altering event and we are all dealing with new and in many cases difficult ways of working, living and educating our children – plus really missing our family and friends. While there is certainly news to be positive about, it doesn’t make the reality of the pandemic any easier and it may become more tempting as we come out of the dark, cold winter months to get out and about and venture further from home. The more we resist this and stick to those stay-at-home rules the more we will see further improvements. The experts say that It is important to look after ourselves and those around us in these very difficult times and that by remaining vigilant we will protect people from catching the virus, drive down infection rates, reduce some of the pressure on the NHS and move closer to a more normal way of life.
But we are still in a national lockdown and the rule to stay at home remains in place, including over the February half-term break. There is no doubt that it is tough, but as lots of people may have time off and children have a break from school-work, it’s really important that we all stay local, do not travel around the country and don’t mix households. Travelling to second homes or holiday homes is still not permitted. Staying home and taking our daily exercise locally remain two of the most effective ways to reduce the spread of the virus and help protect the NHS. Continuing to respect ‘Hands, Face, Space’ is also very important – washing hands frequently and as soon as you come in from the outside, wearing a face covering in all applicable settings and staying two metres away from people outside of your household wherever possible.
Most of us recognise the reasons for the restrictions. But not everyone it would seem wants to follow them. Incredibly last weekend was the busiest since the start of lockdown for police officers in North Yorkshire. Just short of 170 fines were issued across the area with nearly 100 of those to county residents – unbelievably of those 71 were for indoor gatherings – the very conditions in which we know the virus thrives. Included in these fines were two pubs, which opened and served alcohol to groups playing pool or watching the rugby on TV. There was also a group of 11 visitors who travelled from Manchester to visit Whitby Abbey. It is hard to understand what these people don’t understand about the reasons for lockdown and the danger they present to everyone else. We know that one in three people carry Covid-19 with no symptoms and that even if you feel fine you can still spread the virus. As half-term approaches, no doubt many families will be struggling with what to do to entertain children not at school or involved in remote learning. It may be tempting to mix with friends or head to the coast or dales. Please don’t – the risk is not worth taking.
Is children’s play a form of exercise?
The government has been attempting to clear up confusion around the Covid rules on children playing outside after two youngsters, who had been making a snowman, were reportedly told to go home by police. As most of us know, people should only go outside for essential reasons, such as to purchase food or to exercise. When asked whether children making snowmen was legitimate exercise, an official spokesman said: "Under the current lockdown, children’s play areas are allowed to remain open. The government considers children playing to be a form of exercise. So, going to the park with your kids is not only allowed, but perfectly reasonable.”
Employment in the health and caring sector
Last week the government launched an urgent campaign to recruit more health and social care staff to support care home residents and those being cared for at home. The ‘Care for Others. Make a Difference’ initiative is part of a huge effort to fill the gaps left by workers who have been forced to self-isolate due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) is urging the unemployed, volunteers and people on furlough to register to fill in for short-term gaps in the social care sector. Opportunities include personal care – helping people to wash and dress – providing wellbeing support, collecting and delivering supplies, or helping with cooking and cleaning. The exact roles will be based on individual experience and local need and will be at the discretion of the local authority or care provider concerned. Candidates do not necessarily need previous experience in social care as training will be provided.
For the longer term, the government is also mounting a new advertising campaign to highlight the long-term career prospects in the social care sector. Under the strapline ‘We need you now. They need you always’, adverts will appear on TV, radio, social media and online to inspire people to make a difference now by working in social care. The Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that working in the sector offers “tough but rewarding” opportunities for those considering a career in caring for others. Almost 1.5 million people work in adult social care and there are many roles available for those looking to make a difference. People can find out more and search for jobs in our area by visiting the Every Day is Different website – https://www.everydayisdifferent.com/home.aspx
North Yorkshire County Council has its own recruitment programme called ‘Make Care matter’ offering a wide range of employment opportunities. We have all seen and read many wonderful stories of how people across health and social care sectors have been saving lives, changing lives and protecting our most frail residents. If you feel inspired, why not have a look here and see if there is an opportunity for you to join the 17,000 people working in the sector in our county? If you are considering working in the care sector check out the website – makecarematter
Book a coronavirus test locally
Every day sites 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
Latest on schools
Following the Prime Minister’s comments that he hoped schools can reopen from Monday, March 8, the county council is awaiting further details from the government. It is expected there will be two weeks’ notice prior to schools opening so that there’ll be a smooth and safe return to the classroom.
North Yorkshire families on low incomes, or struggling financially due to the pandemic, are set to receive continued support this half-term in the form of supermarket vouchers. These food voucher payments aim to ensure parents and carers hit hard by the pandemic can continue to provide children with essentials by helping meet the cost of food during the school holidays. As at Christmas, the vouchers, worth £15 per child, per week, will be reaching around 17,000 children and young people. For more information visit – https://www.northyorks.gov.uk/local-assistance-fund
Claim tax allowance for working at home
Anyone whose employer requires them to work at home – even if was just for one day in the tax year – can claim a tax relief for increased costs such as heating and electricity for the whole tax year. Right now, because of Covid-19, many firms have closed workplaces requiring employees to work from home, even if it’s just for part of the week, and HM Revenue & Customs has confirmed that claims can be made. In recognition of the difficulty of apportioning extra costs HMRC has agreed a simple rate of £6 a week. To get the allowance you can ask your employer to pay you the £6 a week (£4 a week in 2019-20 tax year) extra tax-free or simply claim tax relief on tax forms. To make the process easy, you won’t need to keep receipts or prove information. Tax relief of £6 a week equates to a gain of £1.20 a week for a basic 20% rate taxpayer, £2.40 a week for a higher 40% rate taxpayer. If you believe you have higher increased costs than £6 a week, you can claim more, but you will need evidence of the cost increases and must be able to apportion these specifically to the fact you are working from home – and this becomes a much more laborious process. Check out the full details at:
Did you notice anything special about 12 February?
Maybe Friday passed like most others during this pandemic, nothing exciting and very much like any other. But the date – 12 02 2021- was actually very special. That’s because it was both a palindrome and an ambigram! That means you could read it left to right, right to left and also upside down. That’s quite rare and the only time such a date will occur this century. The previous palindrome date in all formats came 910 years ago on 11 11 1111. The next will come in 100 years on 12 12 2121 and after that there will not be another until 03 03 3030. However, we won’t have to wait quite so long for another simple palindrome – that’s due later this year in December (12 02 2021).
Do you know a Hambleton Hero?
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. The deadline is 1 March 2021.
Topcliffe Parish Council
On Thursday 18 February at 6pm there will be an online Extra Ordinary Meeting of the Parish Council to discuss two planning applications, including one relating to the Methodist Chapel.
The next ordinary Parish Council will be meeting via Zoom on Thursday 4 March at 7pm.
In relation to both meetings, any members of the public wishing to join in electronically should contact the clerk for log in details by mid-day on the day of the meeting. 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.
Asenby Parish Council
The next Asenby Parish Council meeting will be held online at 7.30pm on Wednesday 17 March 2021. Residents wishing to join this meeting electronically should email the clerk at email@example.com for log in details.
Bitcoin-Related Scam Emails
I’m sorry to harp on about scams but these warnings keep arriving from the police, Neighbourhood Watch and Action Fraud, so I feel obliged to pass them on in the hope that reading them might save someone from the pain and difficulty associated with this odious crime. This message is a warning about unsolicited emails promoting cryptocurrency (Bitcoin) investment opportunities. Last week alone Action Fraud received over750 reports about Bitcoin-related phishing emails that use fake celebrity endorsements to try and lure victims into investment scams. The links in the emails lead to fraudulent websites that are designed to steal your money, as well as personal and financial information. The best advice to protect yourself includes 1) Don’t be rushed into making an investment: Remember, legitimate organisations will never pressure you into making a transaction on the spot. 2) Seek advice first: Speak with a trusted friend or family members and seek independent professional advice before making significant financial decisions. 3) Use the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) register to check if the company is regulated by the FCA. If you deal with a firm (or individual) that isn’t regulated, you may not be covered by the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) if things go wrong and you lose your money.
St. Columba’s Church
St Columba’s PCC has decided to hold the following services during Lent, which commences on 17 February.
• Sunday, 21 February at 10.45 am, Matins (Book of Common Prayer)
• Wednesday, 24 February at 7pm, Compline
• Wednesday, 3 March at 7pm, Compline
• Sunday, 7 March at 6.30 pm, Evensong (Book of Common Prayer)
• Wednesday, 10 March at 7pm, Compline
• Wednesday, 17 March at 7pm, Compline
• Sunday, 21 March at 10.45 am, Matins (Book of Common Prayer)
• Wednesday, 24 March at 7pm, Compline
• Wednesday 31 March 7pm Compline
Compline (Night Prayers) is a short evening service (no more than 15 minutes) of prayers, readings and responses, providing a simple and peaceful way to close the day – and is well worth a try!
The PCC hope that Rev’d Terry Dyer will be able to come and conduct a service of Holy Communion for Easter, either on Saturday evening 3 April, or on Easter Sunday morning 4 April, but that of course will be subject to future government announcements about any lifting of Covid restrictions.
As regards to Covid, the PCC does continually assess the risks and it operates ‘track and trace’ arrangement. All the usual precautions apply – please bring a face covering with you – and we will provide hand sanitiser for use before and after each service. Most importantly, for everyone’s sake, if you have any suspicion you might have contracted Covid-19, please don’t join us on that particular occasion.
• Fish and Chips – The Fish & Chip van is in Topcliffe on Fridays between 5 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.
• 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 – Customers are asked to come prepared in warm clothes in case they have to stand outside during the current cold spell. Until the lockdown restrictions end, the shop will
close at 3pm on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays. On Thursdays and Saturdays it will close at 1pm. Don’t forget that the farm shop is operating a home delivery service to anyone in
Topcliffe, Asenby or Cundall who is isolating. They are also making free deliveries to Dalton, Sessay and Husthwaite every Tuesday and to Rainton, Dishforth and Ripon areas every Wednesday (£10
minimum order applies). Ring 01845 400446 to arrange a delivery. https://www.milkchurnfarmshop.co.uk/
• The Angel – The Angel ‘Dine at Home’ takeaway service has a new menu. 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.
• Refuse – Mondays 15 February and 1, 15 and 29 March
• Recycling & green waste – Thursdays 25 February and 11 and 25 March
• Recycling – Mondays 15 February and 1, 15 and 29 March
• Refuse – Mondays 22 February and 8 and 22 March
• Green waste – Thursday 11 and 25 March
Green waste will only be collected if you have paid the subscription for 2020-21.
• A 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
• A licence from Harrogate for 2021-22 will cost £41 per bin. To subscribe or for more information please visit https://www.harrogate.gov.uk/garden-waste-subscription-service
That’s all for this week. Keep safe and remain well.