[To provide an overview of local response to the national roadmap, incorporating Communications Plan and Adult and Educational Setting Updates.]
John Denley, Director of Public Health delivered the Local Response to COVID-19 Roadmap presentation which provided an outline of the planned local response as the national lockdown restrictions started to lift.
It was noted that the work of the Incident Management Team was key
The steps ran in tandem with the national dates of Step One, Step Two, Step Three and Step Four and it was noted that moving to each step depended on evidence that it would be safe to do so. The local response to Step One was outlined in the presentation.
Communications to promote testing and vaccinations were still active as well as ramping up the message that to relax the rules too soon could cost lives and hinder the relaxation of lockdown restrictions.
Emma Bennett, Director of Children’s and Adult Services outlined the focus on support and training for schools and education settings to establish test centres to test all pupils as well as preparing for the move to home testing. School staff had been testing at home for a few weeks already. Adult education was being supported to operate an onsite test site to bridge the gap with plans to make home testing available to all learners from the end of March 2021. Support and communication had been stepped up to promote adhering to control measures, such as face masks and social distancing for parents at drop-off and pick-up times. COVID Support Advisors support on a rota system was provided to assist with this.
Attendance had been encouraging however caution was still being exercised and the Authority had been working closely with schools to manage this. Public health updates were being provided as well as public health colleagues attending headteacher briefings every half-term. It was acknowledged that the concept of lateral flow testing (LFT) and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing becoming so commonplace was almost unthinkable just over a year ago, however schools and education settings had stepped up to the task admirably.
In respect of Care Homes, it was reported that one visitor per resident was currently allowed, however strict guidelines, use of full PPE and testing was in place. Visitors were not allowed into homes where there had been positive cases and support was being offered in respect of vaccinations. Locally, it had been requested that care providers inform all visitors of the vaccination level of their staff.
It was reported that a Call Centre Offer had been developed to assist with contact tracing and to support the acceleration of the vaccine delivery. It was planned to use the capability of this offer to support test bookings for businesses and promote business grants with the aim of supporting a return to work as safely as possible.
This linked to the next area of provision which focused on support for local businesses with the inclusion of proactive calls to businesses that had either been classed as high risk and/or experienced an outbreak. This would lead to signposting to testing with the offer tailored to the size of the business. A scheme had been launched to show recognition for businesses that were operating safely and promoting regular routine staff testing. The support offered would adapt as each step progressed with a focus on the safe reopening of businesses which were currently closed. It was noted that different service areas of the Council would be contacting local businesses to ascertain what support they needed.
It was reiterated that movement to future steps would be determined by data, not dates, and decisions would be based on the following four tests being met:
Response to the emergence of new variants would also be planned with three tests in mind which were whether the variant increased the transmission rate; made people become more seriously ill or had an impact on the vaccine efficacy.
It was queried what the timescale was for the Local Outbreak Control Plan refresh and it was noted that an initial draft was expected for 12 March 2021. By 16 March, a version to include the template with the additional elements around plans for living with COVID would be expected. A final submission would be required by 26 March 2021 and it was noted that an extraordinary meeting of Local Outbreak Engagement Board would be arranged if required.
A query was raised around provision of respite for NHS staff and it was acknowledged that staff wellbeing was vital, particularly if there should be another wave. It was reported that planning for respite time and regular breaks was being built into the system, especially for the ICU which had experienced intense pressure. Resources, such as podcasts, on promoting wellbeing were also being made available to staff.
That the Local Response to COVID-19 Roadmap be received.