Agenda and minutes

Venue: Virtual Meeting - Please contact the clerk for joining instructions for the meeting

Contact: Karen Strahan / Stephanie Lewis  Email: / Email:


No. Item


Welcome and Introductions

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John Hart, Leader of Devon County Council welcomed all to the first meeting of Team Devon Local Outbreak Engagement Board.


The Chief Executive and Director of Public Health outlined the role of the Local Outbreak Engagement Board and that of the Health Protection Board.


This was a nationally rolled out programme which had developed rapidly in terms of the requirement to produce a Local Outbreak Management Plan and the associated new structures this requires, and the Engagement Board was a significant part of the overall Strategy. The Health Protection Board was responsible for the delivery of the Local Outbreak Management Plan, which had to be in place by the 30th June 2020.


There were also strong links to emergency planning and resilience functions and structures.


The role of the Engagement Board was to oversee the work of Health Protection Board in terms of engaging and communicating with wider public, communities and sectors in the Devon and Torbay area, both public, private and voluntary.


The Chief Executive highlighted that whilst this was a new approach, it was similar to that adopted in Germany with local responsibility for tackling local outbreaks.


There were still further details awaited in the form of a ‘Containment Framework’ which would outline the national and local powers and how central and local would work together in practice.


The Board were also asked to note that the Public Health teams and staff which supported this work were relatively small in numbers, so it was important to ensure they were well supported through this process.


The Director of Public Health added that the South West had an excellent track record in partnership working and therefore was well placed to deliver this work stream effectively. There were strong networks and the Council was part of a number of best practice networks. She also added that there would be joined up working across the peninsular (reflecting Local Resilience Forum arrangements) and that the membership of the Health Protection Board demonstrated the strong leadership that was in place.


The Board was assured of the strong governance arrangements in place including the role of the Health Protection Board and this Board as well as working with MP’s and a focus on prevention and early intervention with a whole range of experienced practitioners.


All Board then members introduced themselves and the organisations and sectors they represented and how they would feed back any key messages to their respective organisations and communications channels. Their respective positions are detailed on the website for the Board.


The Chair commented that the work of the Board was well supported by a number of Council Officers.


The Chair of the Board highlighted that the Board would operate as a hub and spoke arrangement and the importance of Board members relaying key messages and feeding back.


Notes of the Shadow Board on 3 July 2020 pdf icon PDF 68 KB

Matter arising: update on action cards and clarity on local powers, discretion and escalation.

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The notes of the Shadow Board were noted.


Overview of the Local Outbreak Scheme including Plan, Track and Trace, the Health Protection Board and Governance Arrangements pdf icon PDF 61 KB

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The Board received a Presentation received from the Director of Public Health, which was appended to the notes of this meeting.


The presentation highlighted;


  • the number of COVID cases per week including 11 new cases in Devon and 1 in Torbay;
  • that small area data was being released (linked to neighbourhood level);
  • the positivity rate (positive tests / all tests), which was less than 1% for the SW;
  • the figure for Devon over last 14 days was 0.3 (which was not unusual, given increased testing and the release of lockdown). The figures were not a cause for concern;
  • a figure of 5% would need review and action;
  • work was ongoing to enable information and data be shared on a public website;
  • the numbers of confirmed cases in last 14 days by district area, the Board noting that public health compared their data and undertook cross referencing to national data, which confirmed none of the cases were linked (i.e. no outbreaks);
  • the numbers of confirmed cases by day (Devon and Torbay); and
  • the numbers of deaths in Torbay and Devon, which showed there had been no deaths in the period between 27 June and 3 July.


In discussion, the Board asked questions and commented as follows;


  • the difficulty of balance between risk and that of supporting the economy;
  • the capacity of the NHS with social distancing measures and the impact on waiting lists and the need to ensure that people who were unwell felt safe to see and contact GP’s;
  • the position with visitors and how regional public health teams would communicate in the case of an infection (the Director of Public Health commented the system would be similar for that of other infectious diseases but endeavoured to check the position);
  • that the testing regime was getting markedly quicker than was previously the case;
  • that the ‘Action Cards’ were expected to be received with the new containment framework shortly;
  • that further discussions were being held on the issue of those who were asymptomatic, the impact and risk of this and also the national debate regarding the further testing of other groups of people; and
  • that the people of Devon had shown a good response to the required measures of lockdown and shielding which had contributed to the low numbers seen, with also lower incidents in care homes than seen elsewhere.


Agreed that the links from the presentation be included in the minutes – as below


o    Coronavirus Tracker

o    ONS Weekly Death Registrations 

o    LG Inform case tracker (trends and comparisons):

o    PHE MSOA case tracker:

o    PHE weekly surveillance report:

o    ONS weekly mortality data:

o    R Number and Growth Rates:


Setting the Scene - Role and purpose of the Team Devon Local Outbreak Engagement Board and any working practices pdf icon PDF 176 KB

Team Devon LOEB Terms of Reference, attached.

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The Board considered its role and purpose and the terms of reference, the key point being that the role of the Team Devon Local Outbreak Engagement Board was the political?oversight of?the?local delivery?of plan and response and communicating and engaging with residents and communities.


This included avoiding misinformation, working in an open and transparent way and supporting vulnerable and high risk communities.


Partners to outline their role on the Board and their reporting mechanisms

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All Board members had introduced themselves and the organisations and sectors they represented under item 1 (welcomes and introductions).


Prevention and Public Messaging

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The Head of Communications outlined the extensive communication network that would be supporting the Board, including other partners, and the production of a Strategy.


The focus moving forward would feature the issue of personal responsibility and local oversight of the situation.


There would be three strands and levels of communications which would comprise of prevention messages, the promotion of a local response including building trust and confidence and then communications relating to specific incidents and potential outbreaks and the support to be provided in relation to that.


Managing an Outbreak - What Happens, National Guidance, Action Cards and Best Practice examples

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The Board noted that further details were awaited on this matter in the form of a ‘Containment Framework’ which would outline the national and local powers and how central and local would work together in practice. This included the anticipated ‘Action Cards’.


Feedback and / or Urgent Items from the Health Protection Board

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The Director of Public Health advised that the Health Protection Board had been discussing key messages in relation to face coverings and the potential change in the law to expand their use in a number of other settings.


There was an opportunity to share key messages in relation to early prevention, which had been proven to stand the County in good stead and the provision of local clarity in those messages.


Members of the Board were in agreement with the advice to get ahead of the game in terms of prevention advice, but there was a need to consider other settings such as schools and what mitigations would work best in which settings. The discussion emphasised the need for Devon to frame its public health messages for different sectors and communities, including a consideration of those who had a disability.


Agreed that the LOEB be asked to consider the issue of face coverings and the messages it wanted to send and the potential to link these messages with the ending of shielding.


Key Messages to be communicated today

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(a)   the importance of promoting the establishment of the Board and its purpose in the new outbreak management plans, including the promotion of key messages moving forward;

(b)   the need for a clear Communication Strategy and Protocol and this be brought to the next meeting of the Board;

(c)   the emphasis on personal responsibility and managing individual risk, with consideration for the impact of individual behaviour on others, both for residents and businesses; and

(d)   that more work be undertaken in relation to the wider research on face coverings and a proposal for an information / safety campaign be brought back to a future Board meeting.


Public questions / Questions for the Board and its Members

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There were no public questions or comments


The Chair invited other questions from those present who were not Members of the Engagement Board.


Question and comments included:


·         progress relating to the tracing App and satisfaction levels with the current tracing facilities and mechanisms (noting that test and trace did not rely on the App);

·         the secondment of staff to Public Health England in relation to track and trace work;

·         the challenge relating to capacity and ensuring this was sufficient in the event of a surge or pacing of cases;

·         the importance of all other measures being in place alongside any guidance relating to the wearing of face coverings, for example good hygiene practices and social distancing;

·         the role of County Councillors in supporting the communications in the event of any outbreak and the formation of a local protocol to assist in this process; and

·         whether any work was ongoing with behavioural science and affecting behavioural change. The University highlighted their experience in this area and willingness to support. 




(a)   that more work will be undertaken on the research and evidence relating to face coverings and the effectiveness with other measures; and

(b)   that an item for the next agenda would be the consideration of the Local Members Communication Protocol



Dates of future meetings

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Agreed that the next meeting take place on 29th July at 11.00am