Agenda item

COVID-19 update

a.    Local Outbreak Control Plan: Progress Update

b.    Questions from members of the public and stakeholders


The Board received a report and presentation from the Director of Public Health which provided an update on the COVID-19 response and the COVID-19 Local Outbreak Control Plan (for copy of see file of minutes).


The Director of Public Health advised that government published the ‘COVID-19 Response - Spring 2021’, which set out the roadmap for the easing of restrictions and as part of this, Local Authorities were required to update their Local Outbreak Control Plan (LOCP) with a revised Local Outbreak Management Plan (LOMP).  She added that this would encompass any variants and the lessons learnt so far and would be regularly reviewed, amended and updated according to local, regional and national developments.


The LA7, the seven local authorities of County Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, North Tyneside, Northumberland, South Tyneside, and Sunderland, continued to work collectively focusing on a joint approach to COVID-19.


There had been a rapid increase in the number of cases, mainly in younger people.  An increase in Durham City and a small cluster in some schools had involved the Outbreak Control Team putting preventative and control measures in place.


The Chair thanked the whole Public Health team for their efforts in helping to tackle the spread of the virus.


The Director of Public Health advised that the below responses to questions from members of the public and stakeholders would be published on the Council’s website following the meeting:


1.    Why haven’t I seen any action taken against premises I reported for breaches of COVID regulations?


Steve White

Durham County Council, along with the other Local Authorities across the country are looking to support the reopening of the economy and are approaching reports of breaches etc in line with the recognised approach of the four E’s. Engage, Explain, Encourage and then Enforce. ?

If any breaches of the requirements are found the team will work with the business to bring them back into compliance. Enforcement actions will be considered where necessary.


Unfortunately, we are not able to update consumers on individual actions taken but please be assured Durham County Council are taking all relevant actions needed to control the spread of Covid in line with other agencies.

From a police perspective, they were continuing to receive concerns from the public about breaching restrictions and were responding appropriately.  The message continued to be to about prevention.


2.    Members of my household have recently tested positive for COVID-19 and are at the end of their self-isolation period, my partner has just started with symptoms, do we all need to extend our self-isolation period?


Michael Laing

Your isolation period includes the day the first person in your household’s symptoms started (or the day their test was taken if they did not have symptoms) and the next 10 full days.


If other household members develop symptoms during this period, you do not need to isolate for longer than 10 days.


3.    What will happen to the roadmap if other variants of Covid 19 are found prior to 21 June?


Jane Robinson

As you know the country is experiencing a steep rise in infections.  Time has moved on since the question was submitted. As a result of national rate increases, Step 4 of the government’s Roadmap has been delayed until 19 July. The delay is because of concerns over the Delta variant. Cases are growing nationally by about 60% per week, and more time is needed to deliver the vaccine programme before Step 4 can be triggered.

However, from 21 June some restrictions are being lifted:

·        The number of guests at a wedding will no longer be limited to 30. Venues must continue to do a risk assessment to ensure social distancing can take place and stick to current capacity levels.

·        Care home residents will not have to self-isolate after leaving their care homes, and they will be able to nominate an essential care-giver who can visit, even if they are self-isolating.

·        Children can go on overnight trips in groups of 30 with, for example, the Scouts or Guides, or as part of summer residential schools.

·        Planned large events’ pilots in sports, arts and music will continue.


More detail will be published over the coming week.

A number of restrictions which were expected to be lifted, will remain in place. These are:

·        Limits on the number of people who can mix. 6 people or 2 households indoors and up to 30 people outdoors.

·        Workplaces, shops, cafes, pubs, clubs, theatres and cinemas still have to operate within capacity limits and Covid secure measures.

·        Face covering and social distancing rules remain unchanged.

·        Nightclubs remain closed.


4.    Is there any indication of what might happen when the traditional flu season starts, will social distancing and masks be part of life now?


Dr Stewart Findlay

Flu is passed person to person in the same way as Covid-19 is transmitted therefore the control measures of ‘Hands, Face, Space’ have had a significant impact on our Flu figures, nationally and locally over winter. If we continue to exercise measures such as you suggest; social distancing and face coverings – I’d also include good hand hygiene - I would expect a similar reduction in Flu cases throughout the following traditional flu season.

However, Step 4 of the roadmap, plans to remove all legal limits on social contact, meaning social distancing and face coverings would not be part of everyday life. The government have promised to complete a review of social distancing measures and other long-term measures that have been put in place to limit transmission. The results of the review will help inform decisions on the use of social distancing, face coverings and other measures.


5.    How is the vaccine roll out going in County Durham and are we aware of how many people have not taken it up and how can we further encourage them to do so?


Amanda Healy

The vaccine roll out in County Durham has been very successful so far with good take up across all eligible age bands.


The longer the vaccine has been available to an age group the more complete our figures are. For example over 95% of our 60+ age group have had both doses. While younger age groups are still going through the vaccination process and therefore have lower numbers at this point. For example only 35% of our 40-49 year olds have had both doses.


This means on average over 73% of our eligible population aged 16+ have now received their first dose; over 55% have received their second dose; and 26% not yet vaccinated.  You can find all the latest data in County Durham and your local area, on our Covid dashboard


We are now inviting the 25-30 age group to take up vaccinations.


Some key highlights are as follows; 570,000 vaccinations given in County Durham so far; we have the Melissa Bus – a mobile vaccination unit – touring the county providing vaccine without appointments to eligible cohorts, targeting areas with low uptake; Vaccine are available at mass vaccination sites, GP practices, community pharmacies and targeted clinics for vulnerable groups. The vaccination hub at County Hall (stood down on 25 April 2021) vaccinated over 40,000 NHS and social care staff.



In relation to the low take up of the flu vaccine, the Chair asked if symptoms were similar to that of COVID-19 should cases of both diseases presented this winter.  Dr Findlay explained that the symptoms were very similar however they had tests that would indicate what was COVID and what was flu.  He added that it was likely that a booster would be available for those who were vulnerable for COVID and the winter campaign would encourage people to take up the flu jab.  A number of trials were taking place to see if flu and COVID booster jabs could be given together as at present there needed to be a seven day gap.  He went on to advise that immunity levels to flu could be low as the numbers reduced to such low levels last year due to COVID measures.



That the report and updated Local Outbreak Control plan be noted and agreed.

Supporting documents: