A Report from the Health Protection Board on current issues, data and matters for information, including;
· Data and statistics on COVID 19 cases (Simon Chant)
· Schools and Testing Regimes and a Safe Return (Steve Brown)
· Return of Students to University (Chris Lindsay)
The Board received a Report from the Health Protection Board on current issues, data and matters for information.
The Director of Public Health provided an update on the summer spike which had peaked on 20 August. There had been an impact, as reported in the media, due to the board masters festival and also from tourism on the County.
The cases were now in the region of approximately 200 cases per 100,000, so the position was flattening out and there had been a reduction in all age groups except, in the school, college and university age group.
The Board received a presentation of data and statistics on COVID 19 cases on the national picture (vaccination numbers, deaths data, hospitals and patients admitted and virus tests conducted).
The local picture was then reviewed.
All data was available on the following maps.
Devon Dashboard: Coronavirus dashboard and data in Devon - Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Devon detailed age breakdown: Cases in Devon | Coronavirus in the UK (data.gov.uk)
Interactive Map: Interactive map of cases | Coronavirus in the UK (data.gov.uk)
The Director of Public Health reported on schools and testing regimes. He commented on the changing policy decisions that had been made in the summer including pre-supervised LFT prior to commencement of school, close contacts changes and the overall aim of trying to keep children in school.
There had been an increase in cases in schools and colleges, which was to be expected. In the last 7 days there had been notification of 700 positive cases in educational settings. The position appeared to be replicated across the country, so was not unique to Devon.
Previously, close contacts would need to be identified by the school and this was no longer the case and it was the responsibility of NHS test and trace. This often caused confusion with trying to establish linkages between cases, therefore the issue had been escalated.
There was also a concern among some parents who may choose to keep their child at home in the event of a positive case in their child’s class.
The guidance set out two main thresholds where educational settings may have to take "extra action" to tackle an apparent Covid outbreak which was five children, pupils, students or staff or 10 per cent of children, pupils, students or staff who were likely to have mixed closely. The Director of Health reported they had asked that this threshold be reviewed.
Capacity had also increased in the Public Health team to provide support to schools.
Chris Lindsay (Director of Compliance, Governance & Risk) gave an update to the Board on the return of students to university, both on the campus, accommodation and teaching.
Last week had been freshers’ week and currently they were expecting
30,000 student registrations.
There had been a number of strong, focused and regular communications stressing a number of areas including covid awareness, a focus on vaccination and regular testing and pop-up facilities being available. Also, a message on face coverings in shared indoor spaces, pick up points for masks and community protection messages. This included a community charter which set out the student commitments (respect and safety of others, neighbours, following any national / local guidance and actions to minimise spread). The University also had a commitment to the students in terms of systems to mitigate any spread or outbreak, providing robust cleaning services, the use of space on the campus, support to those that needed to self-isolate etc and activity to control outbreaks.
There was also a number of teaching protocols including a focus on the safe management of space and risk assessments.
They had undertaken a detailed analysis of the Government Autumn and Winter Plan to ensure there was alignment and familiarisation with the Plan B.
The Board noted that there had been a high take up of the vaccine among student populations generally.
The Board congratulated the University on their excellent work and preparedness for the return of students.