Dr Ed Ford, Chair of Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “As the Chief Medical Officer has stated, NHS services are likely to come under intense pressure as the coronavirus spreads, and we need to ensure that we have as many beds available as possible to care for patients with severe respiratory problems when the number of infections peaks.
“Therefore, in line with well-established plans for situations like this, every hospital in Somerset is suspending all non-urgent elective operations for at least three months, which will enable us to train our staff, adapt certain areas and increase critical care capacity within our hospitals.
“Emergency surgery will continue, and urgent cases and cancer treatments will be carrying on as normal wherever possible, but we know many people waiting for treatment will be disappointed or worried, and we will be contacting everyone affected as soon as possible.
Dr Ford added: “For most people, coronavirus (COVID-19) will be a mild infection. If you have symptoms of coronavirus infection, however mild, please stay at home and do not leave your house for 7 days from when your symptoms started. The symptoms are either a high temperature or a new continuous cough. If you live with other people, they should stay at home for 14 days from the day the first person got symptoms. This action will help protect others in your community while you are infectious.
Everyone must stay at home to help stop the spread of coronavirus. This includes people of all ages – even if you do not have any symptoms or other health conditions.
Other things you can do to stop the infection spreading:
- wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds
- use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
- cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
- put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards
- stay 2 metres (3 steps) away from other people, if you need to go outside
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