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GPs and primary care staff in Somerset are working hard to keep people as safe as possible in these exceptional circumstances.

Dr Emma Keane, GP and Associate Clinical Director of Primary Care, Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “We know that the Coronavirus outbreak is causing anxiety and concern in our local communities.

“We would like to assure everyone that NHS health and care staff across Somerset are here to provide GP and primary care services in as normal a way as possible during this challenging time.

“As a precaution to protect patients, staff and the public, GP appointments across the county will be triaged online or over the phone to make sure that patients are cared for by the right person, in the right place for their illness. GP surgery doors will be kept open wherever possible and where people need to be seen face to face, they will be.

“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.”

“There are several things that people can do to help us keep services running well. Anyone who is unwell should to go NHS 111 online first for advice rather than approaching their GP practice.

“People can also help by using the NHSApp and other online services where they can. Each GP practice website has links to a range of online services which will support people to access advice and information and, in most cases, order repeat prescriptions online.

“For parents and carers of babies and young children, the HandiApp offers simple and straightforward advice.

“You can also help us by only requesting your usual supply of medications when required and not try and do it early or order extra, to help the supply chain keep up with demand. We will make sure suitable provision is made for people self-isolating owing to illness or being in at-risk groups.”

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