Agenda item

The Board and Head of Communications and Media to consider any key messages to be communicated, to include an update on the enforcement of the national lockdown.

Minutes:

The Board and Head of Communications and Media considered the key messages coming from the meeting.

 

“Don’t let things slip! - Think twice before leaving home, stay local and avoid situations that bring you into contact with others as much as possible.”

 

·         Case numbers continued to rise in Devon – particularly in working age population and the elderly (85 year +)  

·         While the rates remained relatively low compared to most of the country, the Devon rate was at the highest level since the start of the pandemic.

·         Hospitals continued to be under huge pressure

·         Concern about rising cases, outbreak situations and deaths in care homes.

·         The vaccination programme continued to gather pace and was good news but was not a signal to lower guards - the virus was in communities and would remain so for months to come with the new variant easier to transfer.

·         Essential that everyone redoubles their efforts - stay at home as much as possible and follow national rules around space, face and hands

·         Please use common sense – stay indoors and only go out if you really need to, stay local and avoid situations where you might come into contact with others as much as possible.

·         Every time you leave your home you risk coming into contact with an infected person or touching a surface or door handle or petrol pump which may be contaminated. Any one of these interactions could be a link in the chain of transmission which could lead to someone becoming seriously ill or dying from COVID-19.

 

Other key messages

 

Hospitals and health service

·         Case numbers in hospitals were now the highest since the start of the pandemic

·         Nightingale hospital was open and adding additional capacity

·         Planning for further surge over next few weeks

·         111 First service was now in place and being promoted to help manage non-urgent cases and ensure people got access to care at the right time in the right place

 

Vaccination

·         Local vaccination programme was now being extended with good supplies of both the Pfizer and now Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine (which was easier to store)

·         Over 63,000 vaccinations delivered to date

·         All main hospitals – Plymouth, Exeter, Torquay and Barnstaple – were vaccinating priority groups in line with national guidance

·         GP practices working together had set up 20 local vaccination centres serving all of Devon’s 123 GP practices – range of venues being used including leisure centres and other community facilities

·         Continuing to work to deliver two mass vaccination centres - Plymouth and Exeter - to come on stream by end of January

·         GP-led vaccination of care home residents and staff had begun

·         Pharmacy programme now being developed

·         To minimise wastage, local vaccination sites were using unfilled appointments to vaccinate frontline healthcare workers

·         Current and former NHS staff were becoming vaccinators, with thousands completing their online training. They would be deployed as more vaccine supplies became available.

·         Volunteer plan in place for marshalling and other support tasks

·         Being vaccinated reduces your risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID, no one who has had the vaccine has been admitted to hospital with COVID.  However, you can still catch COVID and still pass it on so you must continue to adhere to the restriction and public health guidance.

 

Care Homes

·         Despite excellent measures taken by local care homes, the numbers of positive cases, serious outbreaks and deaths were rising and a cause of concern with 20% of Devon cases attributable to care homes

·         GP-led and hospital vaccination services had made good progress in vaccinating staff and residents and the target was to complete all care home vaccinations by end of January

·         Infection control measures must be kept up irrespective of testing and vaccination

·         Vaccination Plan moving on to take in vulnerable housebound, wider social care workforce and other vulnerable groups in line with national policy

 

Local Rapid Testing and Contact Tracing

·         A community rapid testing programme to go live by end of January. The testing using Lateral Flow Devices would be available to key workers who can’t work from home, those supporting vulnerable people or working in high risk settings.

·         These tests were to help stop the spread of infection by identifying asymptomatic people and getting them to isolate

·         Initial site planned in Exeter with a roll-out of multiple other fixed sites and mobile units across the county as soon as possible

·         Working as Team Devon and volunteer plans in place

·         Local contact tracing service (to supplement national contact tracing) to go live by the end of January.

 

Schools

·         All school and early years settings were open

·         Pressure on schools tremendous – responsible for face-to-face and remote learning

·         The County average, across all schools, for attendance of secondary aged pupils was 10% of the all pupil Cohort. For primary aged pupils the average was 26%.  There were significant differences between schools with some reporting much higher numbers.

·         Most key workers’ children were being supported

 

Lockdown and compliance

·         Activity on Devon’s roads down by 33% weekdays (compared to 70% in first lockdown and 25% in November) and 45-50% weekends.

·         Access to retail and recreation down 50%

·         Police undertaken clear public messaging campaign on compliance, were engaging with large numbers of the public and issuing fixed penalties where necessary – large gatherings and persistent breaches etc.

 

Supporting vulnerable people

·         Support arrangements for the 36,000 clinically vulnerable and for vulnerable children and families (food voucher scheme) had stepped up again via Team Devon partners and the local voluntary sector.

·         Special grants to voluntary sector are again available.

 

Local businesses

·         Considerable concern regarding impact on local businesses and business failure

·         Business community pushing for long term plan

·         Mental health a real concern