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 Management Plan (for copy of see file of minutes).
The Director of Public Health gave a detailed presentation that highlighted the promotion of access to the surveillance dashboard, that the vaccination programme had opened up to 16-17 year olds, the importance of ventilation and fresh air and planning for the autumn and winter. A more in depth look at supporting schools and colleges and the vaccination programme were highlighted. Rates remained relatively high with hospital admissions affecting more younger aged people.
The Director of Public Health advised that the following responses to questions from members of the public and stakeholders would be published on the Council’s website following the meeting:
Dr Stewart Findlay
1. What happens from 16 August? Who is exempt from self- isolation if they are pinged?
From 16 August 2021, in line with step 4 of the government’s Covid-19 roadmap, if you receive notice to self-isolate as a close contact of a positive case from NHS Test and Trace or from Public Health and are double vaccinated (and have been for at least 2 weeks prior to contact) or under 18 years of age, you will no longer be legally required to self-isolate. You will be advised to take a precautionary PCR test.
Those not fully vaccinated still need to self-isolate if notified as a close contact of a positive case, and you still need to isolate if you test positive for Covid-19, to protect yourself and others.
2. How do you prove you’re fully vaccinated?
You can prove you are fully vaccinated through the NHS Covid Pass which allows you to share your vaccination records or test status in a secure way. You may be asked to demonstrate your Covid-19 status as a condition of entry to a venue/event or when you are travelling abroad.
If you are aged 18 or over you can get a NHS Covid Pass for domestic venues and events. If you are 16 or over you can get this pass for travel abroad but you must then follow the entry requirements of the country you are travelling to.
To find out about the NHS Covid Pass visit the Gov.uk website: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/covid-pass/
Paper versions can be printed out via the NHS App if needed, and if people don’t have smart phones / access to the app etc, they can ring 119 and request a paper version.
3.Is it recommended to continue to do regular lateral flow tests? If so, will these still be available free of charge?
Yes, we are still advocating twice weekly LFD Testing. These home test kits are free and you can find details on how to order home testing kits to be delivered to your home or to find your nearest collection point (there are over 160 collection points in County Durham), on our webpage www.durham.gov.uk/CovidLFT
4. If we can still get Covid when we have been double vaccinated, why is it so important for me to have both doses?
Anyone who gets COVID-19 can become seriously ill or have long-term effects (long COVID). The COVID-19 vaccines are the best way to protect yourself and others.
Research has shown the vaccines help to:
• Reduce your risk of getting seriously ill or dying from COVID-19
• Reduce your risk of catching or spreading COVID-19
• Protect against COVID-19 variants.
The first dose should give you some protection from 3 or 4 weeks after you've had it. But you need 2 doses for stronger and longer-lasting protection. Being fully vaccinated reduces the harm of Covid-19. There is a chance you might still get or spread COVID-19 even if you have a vaccine, so it's important to follow advice about how to avoid catching and spreading COVID-19
The Chair was advised that people were expected to hear about the booster vaccine shortly and whether 12-15 year olds would be included to start receiving their vaccines.
Dr Findlay re-emphasised the importance of having both vaccines and the booster as the effects would wear off in time and protection was so important to continue to fight COVID.
That the report and updated Local Outbreak Management plan be noted and agreed.