A verbal update from Shade Agboola
Dr Shade Agboola, WCC Director of Public Health provided a verbal update covering the following areas:
· Reference to the national lockdown imposed, following the increase in Covid-19 case numbers.
· Across the country, the rate per 100,000 of population was now above 200 in nearly all areas, rising to over 900 in the south east. There were higher rates of positivity of test results, more cases in rural areas, and a higher number of cases amongst people aged over 60.
· It was hoped that the lockdown would reverse these trends. The council was in a support role to care homes, businesses and schools.
· There were five sites open for community testing at Water Orton, Bedworth, Nuneaton, Rugby and Warwick. A centre would open at Stratford-upon-Avon the following week, giving capacity for approximately 15,000 tests per week. Demand for tests remained good.
· Clarity was being sought about asymptomatic community testing which was expected to continue during the current lockdown. To date approximately 18,000 tests had been completed with a positivity rate of 1.12%.
Discussion took place on the following aspects:
· It was questioned if data was available on the proportion of the population who had had the virus. There were prevalence estimates which give a range, estimated at 2-3% in December, which was now likely to have increased. This would be researched from data available from Public Health England. Nigel Minns added that this might be an area which could be explored by the WCC Insight team, using data from the Office of National Statistics.
· A question about secondary school testing, which was expected to continue as planned. With the reduced numbers of pupils and teachers in schools, due to lockdown, this should be easier to manage.
· Discussion about the 196 positive lateral flow test (LFT) results and whether these were subsequently confirmed by a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test. The data regarding subsequent PCR tests was owned by the DHSE and could be researched. An outline was given of the process undertaken after the LFT and reporting arrangements.
· Arrangements for testing children who were not at school presently and how it would be managed. The school testing programme was led by the Department for Education, but Public Health was kept informed. The lockdown meant that the number of pupils tested would reduce significantly, other than for vulnerable children, those of key workers and teachers. The aims of the school testing programme were explained. Children not in school could go to a community testing facility.
· Staffing capacity both for community testing and vaccinations. To date there had been adequate staffing levels, working in partnership with each district and borough council and use of agency personnel. Secondary school testing would require considerable additional staffing, which would need to be considered.
· The Chair asked for an update on vaccinations, noting that a formal update would be provided by the clinical commissioners at the Health and Wellbeing Board (HWBB) the following day. Shade Agboola and Adrian Stokes provided an update. This week 19,000 vaccinations had been provided, with the expectation to provide 24,000 vaccinations next week on a prioritised approach, targeting care homes and those aged over 80. Three hospital hubs were now operational, with the Partnership Trust commencing at the end of the week. By the end of the week there would be 12 local vaccination centres across Coventry and Warwickshire. Subject to sign off and vaccine supply, a further eight centres would launch the following week. So far residents of 23 care homes had received vaccinations.
· Ensuring residents served by smaller GP surgeries were able to receive vaccinations. By next week, there would be a total of 20 local vaccination centres covering all of the Coventry and Warwickshire area.
· It was questioned if visits to a care home would be permitted once its residents had been vaccinated. This would not be the case immediately as there would be a period before they received the booster and were protected totally. Additionally, the national lockdown would prevent such visits currently.
Arrangements for contacting elderly residents to book their vaccinations. Adrian Stokes offered to research how this was being undertaken and the councillor was asked to email him. Via the chat dialogue, it was confirmed that letters and phone contact were being made.