COVID 19 EXPERIENCE IN ESSEX 2020

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Covid 19, the pandemic that swept the world from late 2019. Originally been discovered in China. It hit Europe in the winter of the new year. This post is tell you what happened in Essex during this period. I am high risk with my health condition. So I was not allowed outside. I was even self isolating before the official lockdown in the UK since March 23rd 2020. I have some friends who work in the schools, doctors, care home and the hospital. These are their experiences.

Schools

My sisters primary school only gave her a little bit of maths and english to do. My friend works at a secondary school, he told me this

I have to contribute with 8 lessons a week to help the department. Not many kids really but had to send about 30 home as they were not meant to be in school !!! I went in today but got sent home so now I have to plan everything at home. Bad as I work better in school but hey that’s that

Hospital

My friend works at a hospital in central London. She told me this

We were told when the first case hit UK that we would be placed wherever we were needed to make the hospital function. Last week after the team cancelled all the surgeries booked they were helping outpatient so I’ll see what happens tomorrow. So 3 people on a team of 7 off with symptoms, 2 awaiting tests results, 1 waiting her test . Let’s pray that they’re all negative. My daily commute takes me through this area of East London. It saddens me that still many people getting on in this area don’t wear a face covering/ mask

She only got a Covid test in early June, I asked why it took so long ;

NHS and healthcare workers were offered an antibody test to trial them before they may be available to everyone if they work. We’re only tested if we’re showing symptoms or a member of a household is like everyone else

Two days later, she got a text to say that she had no antibodies and looks like she did not catch this disease

I got this text today , out of those tested on our team so far :

Not been ill/ had household test positive = no antibodies
Not been ill but had member of the household test positive = have antibodies
Been ill & tested positive for COVID-19 = have antibodies.

If anything this proves I’ve done everything correctly by following NHS guidelines and been very lucky!! So I’ll have to wear a face mask at all times whilst at work from June 15. I’m fine with that but hope there’s enough PPE !!!

Doctors

Surgery closed to walk in appointments. All have to go through the telephone unless you made a appointment online. Blood tests cancelled as well. But you can get them if you want to go to the local hospital.

Pharmacy

I have monthly prescriptions. Normally order online, and pick up five days later. In March, my doctors surgery ask if I want to do a batch order for the year. This was due to being stable on my medication. So this was agreed. I did not need to order anything and my pharmacy delivered as I was not allowed outside to collect them. I was thankful for this.

Shops

All shops closed, some sent home with full pay, then retracted with pay until end of March. Each company is different. What I did find funny. The first week of the lockdown for my husband, he announced that I was not going out food shopping with him. So I tried to help him with the shopping list. We live in a small town, with a smaller supermarket. So from my memory, I tried to remember each aisle in order and make it easy for him. The second week, I forgot to do this but no comment. The third week, before I had even thought about writing the list. I was asked, “can you do the shopping list properly this time” as he found it easier the first week but not the second. My shopping list on the second week “was all over the place”.

My Experience

I am naturally strong willed and very independent. I was in the high risk group when the latest government guidelines came out

  • People on immunosuppression therapies sufficient to significantly increase risk of infection.

This year has been tough for me, I was so upset with grief for my cat. I could not shake this for three months. And as soon as I start to feel mentally better, I am restricted to being home for four months. I already only got out for health reasons, library run and food shopping once a week. Occasionally a trip into the Chelmsford city centre to catch up with my friends. But I could only talk with over the phone and internet. The same with my family. I hated this, and this got me very depressed. Thankfully, I did find on YouTube, Cirque Du Soleil  released various hour-long specials. I enjoyed a front-row seat to awe-inspiring moments of the larger-than-life shows of Kurios – Cabinet of Curiosities, ‘’O’’, and Luzia, Alegria, Kooza and Ka, Bazaar, Amaluna, Volta,

Thanks to Universal and Andrew Lloyd Webber, every Friday for 48 hrs, under the YouTube account – The Shows Must Go On the channel bringing you showtunes, backstage access and full performances from some of the best loved musicals in history! I watched on Easter Saturday, Jesus Christ Superstar. Director Laurence Connor presents this contemporary re-imagining of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s legendary rock musical Jesus Christ Superstar. The world renowned phenomenon portrays the story of the last seven days of Christ leading up to his crucifixion as seen through the eyes of Judas Iscariot. Filmed as an arena rock opera, the performance features a star-studded line-up which includes award-winning musical comedian, Tim Minchin as the role of Judas Iscariot; pop icon and former Spice Girl Melanie C as Mary Magdalene; radio DJ Chris Moyles in his stage debut as King Herod; and Ben Forster, to take on the title role of Jesus. This award-winning creative team is sure to captivate audiences and transform the hugely popular stage production into a unique, modern, state-of-the-art spectacular. I also got to experience again my favourites The Phantom Of The Opera and its sequel Love Never Dies and Cats.

COVID 19 ESSEX

COVID 19 ESSEX

COVID 19 ESSEX

Local Council Early April

An Easter message from Leader of Essex County Council, Cllr David Finch sent by email.

Dear residents,

Thank you for staying home and saving lives. The last few weeks have been challenging for everyone. Whether you are a key worker, or staying at home juggling work, childcare and home-schooling, I want to thank every single person who is complying with the current restrictions and social distancing guidelines. You really are helping to protect our NHS and save lives. We only need look at how much traffic has reduced on our roads to know that the majority of people across Essex understand the importance of the current restrictions, and they are only making trips for essentials like food or medicine, and they are exercising close to home. Inevitably there have been some who think that these rules do not apply to them. I have a stark message for you if you are in this minority. Coronavirus is a killer. By ignoring the restrictions, you risk your own life and those of others. I understand that the current curbs on normal life are hard for many. Not being able to see family members and friends is especially challenging, even more so during religious holidays and celebrations and while the sun is shining. Whilst we want you to enjoy this long weekend, I want to ask residents – please – to continue to follow the government’s guidance. Please do not meet with friends and family. Please do not travel unnecessarily to beaches, beauty spots or country parks. Not following this guidance, even for a day, could have serious implications and lead to much stricter restrictions being put in place. As well as Easter, in the coming days and weeks there are also a number of other religious holidays taking place. Today (Thursday 9 April), for instance, is the Jewish holiday of Passover. I would ask all our friends in the Jewish community to follow the social distancing advice and guidance from faith leaders, which means staying at home and not going on outings. I would like to thank the people of Essex for persevering through this difficult time. I wish you all a peaceful and happy Easter weekend.

COVID 19 ESSEX

Mid May

15 recycling centres in Essex will be reopened on Monday, 18th May 2020. Recycling centres are open for waste or recycling which cannot be stored at home without causing a health and safety risk. Essex County Council is urging residents to be aware that when the recycling centres do open, new restrictions and strict social distancing controls will be in place to ensure the safety of residents and site staff. These restrictions will include limiting the number of cars on site at any one time.

Cllr Simon Walsh, Essex County Council Cabinet member for Environment and Climate Change Action, said: “I am appealing for Essex residents to make a common-sense judgement – only visit recycling centre sites if absolutely necessary. These are unprecedented times and we need you to help us. “A number of recycling centres in Essex will reopen on Monday 18th May, however the priority remains the same – we must ensure the safety of residents and site staff, which is why a number of recycling centres are unable to reopen at this time. “New restrictions and social distancing measures have been put in place before any recycling centre reopens and we have worked hard on the processes that needed to be agreed before this date could be announced. Only items that cannot be stored without causing a risk of injury, health or harm should be taken to a recycling centre. “I must stress the importance of only making an essential visit when absolutely necessary.”

We had a garden filled with bags ready to go but we put this off until June. It was not a necessity to get there and I wanted to go out and this was not possible with me being high risk until August.

Late May

Government advise changed;

The government has updated its guidance for people who are shielding taking into account that COVID-19 disease levels have decreased over the last few weeks. People who are shielding remain vulnerable and should continue to take precautions but can now leave their home if they wish, as long as they are able to maintain strict social distancing. If you choose to spend time outdoors, this can be with members of your own household. If you live alone, you can spend time outdoors with one person from another household. Ideally, this should be the same person each time. If you do go out, you should take extra care to minimise contact with others by keeping 2 metres apart. This guidance will be kept under regular review.

But reading the weekend online news, every one stated this change was incorrect. The virus has not left the UK yet, so I should still self isolate. I ordered online some masks to wear outside.

County Update

Dear resident,

Following on from the government’s announcement of the gradual easing of some of the restrictions of lockdown, Essex County Council has begun its own work to gradually reintroduce some services. The new #StayAlert guidance is by its nature more complex than what it replaced. Necessarily so, because we are entering a more complex phase of the national response to COVID-19. Advice and guidance to businesses and individuals must guide individual choices and actions. In Essex, from Monday, 15 recycling centres will open, but with a reduced service because of social distancing. Further details are in this newsletter and on our website. We are also working with primary schools and early years settings to help them plan how they will return. This will be phased, gradual and small-scale, from 1 June. In our town and city centres, where there is less motor traffic and the safest way to get to and from work is walking or by bicycle, we are beginning work to put temporary cycle lanes in place, and expand footpaths so that people have more room to socially-distance. We will be talking to local councils and cycling groups about the potential locations for such lanes in the coming days and weeks.

Cllr David Finch

Leader, Essex County Council

Mid June

I got a call from my local library. I had reserved a book, that had come in the day of the UK lockdown. And I was asked if I still wanted to read this and have it delivered to me. And I did.

Then found out this;

From Monday 6 July 2020, sixteen sites will re-open; Basildon, Billericay, Braintree, Brentwood, Chelmsford, Clacton, Colchester, Dunmow, Epping, Harlow, Harwich, Maldon, Rayleigh, Rochford, South Benfleet and Witham. The initial sixteen sites re-opening were selected as they also provide Registration Services, and therefore allow this important service to be more easily delivered too. The safety of library employees and customers is paramount, and all libraries will be risk assessed and suitably prepared before they reopen to allow customers and staff to maintain social distancing and stay safe. Once open, regular cleaning measures will be in place. To begin with, the service offered will be limited, but Essex Libraries are looking forward to welcoming customers again. Customers will be able to return and borrow books, as well as have some limited time to browse the shelves. In line with Government guidance, the number of customers allowed in a library at any one time will need to be reduced to help people stay safe. To help us work safely, customers will be asked to use the self-service machines to issue and return their items and to pay any charges. Public computers, printing facilities and additional services such as recycling bags will be temporarily unavailable, but, these services will be reviewed frequently so that they can be offered again as soon as it is safe to do so. We also encourage customers to continue to use the library digital reading and online services where possible.

This was good news for me, my life could start again.

Emailed 12th June

Country Parks

We are pleased to confirm that Essex County Council Country Parks are back to normal opening hours. All parks will be open from 8am to dusk. The parks, car parks and toilets will be open to the public. However, the children’s play equipment, visitor centres and cafes will remain closed, in line with government guidance.

Libraries

We are now preparing a phased approach to re-open libraries in line with government guidelines. From Monday 6 July 2020, sixteen libraries across Essex will re-open.

Schools

Following the wider opening of early years settings, infant, junior and special schools last week, some secondary schools and colleges in Essex will begin to open to more pupils from Monday. We’ve been pleased to see the fantastic response of schools and settings to wider opening now being possible. We’d like to thank staff in schools and settings for their dedication and commitment to the children and young people of Essex.

Investing in key city centre locations to make social distancing easier

Work is underway to provide bigger, safer spaces in key locations for city centre shoppers, residents, workers and visitors to social distance in. Existing cycle lanes and pavements will be enhanced as well as new lanes and pavements created. The first urban areas to see these measures introduced are Chelmsford (started on 8 June) and Colchester (starting on 15 June).

safergreenerhealthiermap_chelmsford

Opticians Late June

I had to go for a routine eye test when I could not watch a movie from my bed. I could not see with or without my glasses. I booked online for the upcoming weekend. First time out into my area and I was shocked how busy it was, nobody except me had a mask on. I felt very vulnerable having to walk past them on my crutches. When arriving at the opticians, I was not allowed in until sanitized my hands. All the staff had masks on but I still did not feel comfortable.

Shielding Continues

On 22 June the government set out a series of steps for further relaxing shielding guidance which will come into effect on 6 July and 1 August.

From 6 July, the government will be advising:

  • you may, if you wish, meet in a group of up to 6 people outdoors, including people from different households, while maintaining strict social distancing
  • you no longer need to observe social distancing with other members of your household
  • in line with the wider guidance for single adult households (either an adult living alone or with dependent children under 18) in the general population, you may from this date, if you wish, also form a ‘support bubble’ with one other household. All those in a support bubble will be able to spend time together inside each other’s homes, including overnight, without needing to socially distance

From 1 August the government will be advising that shielding will be paused. From this date, the government is advising you to adopt strict social distancing rather than full shielding measures. Strict social distancing means you may wish to go out to more places and see more people but you should take particular care to minimise contact with others outside your household or support bubble. In practice this means that from 1 August:

  • you can go to work, if you cannot work from home, as long as the business is COVID-safe
  • children who are clinically extremely vulnerable can return to their education settings if they are eligible and in line with their peers. Where possible children should practise frequent hand washing and social distancing
  • you can go outside to buy food, to places of worship and for exercise but you should maintain strict social distancing
  • you should remain cautious as you are still at risk of severe illness if you catch coronavirus, so the advice is to stay at home where possible and, if you do go out, follow strict social distancing

The guidance for the clinically extremely vulnerable group remains advisory. More detailed advice will be updated as the changes in advice come into effect on 6 July and 1 August.

Unless we see a significant rise in cases we expect the shielding programme to be paused on 31 July.

Those in receipt of centrally provided food boxes and medicine deliveries will continue to receive this support until the end of July if they want it.

Thoughts

I am still worried about going outside. The virus is still here and no vaccine yet. I order some masks to wear but they were too big for me. Fitted my husband fine. I had a hospital appointment in July, and was not allowed inside unless hands sanitised and mask on. The hospital masks are a better fit for me. I will not be going out much at all. Maybe the odd library or weekly shop. But will try and avoid busy weekend days. I have booked a haircut, not because of the pandemic, but because I have not had my hair cut since my rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis back in 2017. That is not happening until September. I really hope we get a working vaccine soon, so we can remove this terrible disease from our daily life. I just hope to live through a pandemic until it disappears !

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