The Committee received a report of the Director of Public Health which provided an update on the Local Outbreak Management Plan, the Health Protection Assurance Board and the current local COVID-19 activity. In addition, the report included an update on the Government’s Autumn and Winter Plan, Contain Framework and Plan-B guidance (for copy see file of minutes).
In providing the most recent COVID-19 infection rates, the Director of Public Health confirmed that over 12000 positive cases had been reported during the previous week, which were not translating into same the same level of hospital admissions that the same number of case rates would have resulted in 2021, which was confirmation that the vaccination programme had been significant in reducing hospital admissions.
The Director of Public Health advised that over 86% of people eligible had been given their first dose of thee vaccine, 80% had been given the second dose, and 63% had been given the third booster.
Guidance was continuously changing and the day before the meeting the government had shared new self-isolation guidance. County Durham had a significant level of vaccination stock which had been prioritised and utilised in hight risk settings, care homes, prisons, NHS, in order to keep services running however the national supply was starting to come through. There had been changes to testing, with PCR testing having been suspended.
The Direector of Public Health advised that the infection was circulating in schools but the service was trying to get young people age 12-15 years, vaccinated.
Councillor Stubbs acknowledged the success of the vaccination programme with only 103 patients in hospital in County Durham and he referred to the message being widely conveyed over social media. He asked whether patients’ vaccination status was checked on admission to hospital and the Director of Integrated and Community Service , County Durham Care Partnership advised that vaccination status was checked on admission and of the 103 patients admitted only half were admitted with COVID-19 as a primary cause.
Those who were most ill and those in ITU were unvaccinated and people who were unvaccinated were more risk of being ill with COVID-19.
In response to a further comment from Councillor Stubbs who did not thing that the message was getting across, the Director of Integrated and Community Service advised that this was the message that was being conveyed to the public, the unvaccinated were much more likely to be really, really ill.
R Stray, Communications and Engagement Manager, County Durham & Darlington NHS Foundation Trust advised that over the previous 2-3 weeks the message reported was with regards to the importance of having the first two doses and the booster as soon as eligible. This was reported on social media, internally, the Director mo had been interviewed on BBC Look North.
Councillor Andrews referred to the two strains of COVID-19 Delta and Omicron and queried whether the public were aware that they were both running alongside one another. The Director of Public Health confirmed that Omicron was the dominant variant and even if the booster protected from serious illness, it could still be a really awful virus. The NHS were proactive and reinforcing the message that the effects of this strain was not mild, even for those who were vaccinated and it could still be a serious illness.
That the report be noted.