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Duncan Selbie's Friday message - 13 March 2020

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Dear everyone


Critical in our response to the COVID-19 outbreak is not only what we do, but when we do it. Taking the right combination of steps at the right time based on scientific evidence is important for many reasons, most notably in ensuring that they have as positive an impact as possible and are sustainable.

The most significant development this week was the Prime Minister’s decision to move into the delay phase, and with this we are advising anyone with a new continuous cough or a high temperature to stay at home and not leave for 7 days from the onset of these symptoms. This very important action will help protect others in the community while they are infectious. To ensure that you can all make a difference, plan ahead and ask your employer, friends and family to help you get the things you need. You can find out everything you need to know about staying at home in our guidance for people with confirmed or possible COVID-19 infection.

We also launched on Tuesday the COVID-19 tracking dashboard, which shows reported cases of coronavirus in the UK, new cases confirmed each day, cases by upper tier local authority in England and the number of UK deaths due to coronavirus. Recovery numbers will be included from next week. The dashboard has had 2 million clicks so far, which is further evidence that this is the number one concern for the country. It will continue to be developed, and feedback would be appreciated.

No Smoking Day

Smoking remains the nation’s biggest killer and accounts for half of the difference in the years of healthy life between the affluent and the poor, and is especially evident in the great variation in women who smoke during pregnancy.

On No Smoking Day this Wednesday, PHE encouraged all smokers to reflect on the immediate physical benefits of stopping smoking, which start within 24 hours. No matter how long you have smoked it is never too late to quit, and Smokefree can support people through this.

People experiencing rough sleeping

And finally, the Chancellor announced £262m of new funding to expand drug and alcohol treatment for people experiencing rough sleeping or at risk of experiencing rough sleeping to be allocated to local authorities through Public Health England over the next 4 years. This is a major new programme to improve treatment pathways for this vulnerable group and reflects the Government’s commitment to end rough sleeping by the end of the parliament in 2024, alongside an additional £237m for new accommodation for people sleeping rough. More on this to follow soon.

Best wishes



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