Agenda and minutes
Contact: Gordon Oliver
The minutes of the meeting held on 26 June 2021 were approved as a true and correct record.
No declarations of interest were made.
The Board considered a presentation from Matthew Pearce (Agenda Item 4) on the Covid-19 Situational Report. Key points were as follows:
· Case rates were rising in all areas of Berkshire
· Rates were lowest in West Berkshire and highest in Reading.
· Nationally, the rates were doubling every 9 days.
· The latest infection rate for West Berkshire was 101 cases per 100,000 population.
· There had been 133 new cases in the latest 7-day period with two community outbreaks.
· There had been 7,057 cases in West Berkshire since the start of the pandemic – this was expected to increase with the move to Step 4 of the Covid Road Map.
· Weekly case rate data from 24th June showed the highest rates among people aged 20-24 (413 per 100,000) and 15-19 (233 per 100,000).
· There were now more cases among men than women - this was a change from previous periods.
· Approximately 35 percent of those testing positive displayed symptoms at the time of testing.
· Areas with the highest numbers of Covid cases included Aldermaston, Purley and Tilehurst.
· Hospital admissions to the Royal Berkshire Foundation Trust Hospital remained low. There were three new Covid-19 admissions on 27th June 2021.
· The link between infections and hospitalisations had been weakened but not broken by the vaccine.
· The current ratio of cases to hospitalisation was 1 in 164 cases.
· The majority of Covid restrictions were likely to be lifted on 19th July, with the decision expected on 12th July.
· Under the proposed changes, masks would not be a legal requirement, the limits on numbers attending indoor and outdoor meetings would be lifted as would restrictions on care home visitors. Also, 1m+ social distancing requirements would end.
· The gap between vaccines would be reduced to 8 weeks for people aged under 40.
· The requirement to isolate after testing positive or if contacted by Track & Trace services was staying in place, but there may be exceptions for contacts who were fully vaccinated.
· Further information on schools bubbles was expected to be announced shortly.
The Chairman asked why the rates among people aged 60 years and over varied so greatly between areas - Slough was particularly high. Matt Pearce did not have that information, but offered to investigate.
The Chairman asked in relation to those in hospital with Covid - what were their ages and vaccination status? It was confirmed that very few people were on ventilators as treatments were improving. The age of those hospitalised was generally coming down as the vaccination programme progressed.
Councillor Steve Masters asked about the potential for problems following the removal of restrictions? It was expected that cases and hospitalisations would continue to rise. Whether there would be a change in policy in the Winter was yet to be seen.
Councillor Masters asked if there was any data about long-Covid cases. Matt Pearce explained that it was hard to collect this data as the hospitals tended to only see the most severe cases.
Councillor Masters asked about mask wearing after ... view the full minutes text for item 174.
The Board considered a presentation from Jo Reeves (Agenda Item 5) on the vaccination programme. Key points were as follows:
· Government dashboard for West Berkshire
o 114,000 1st dose received – 84.6%
o 82,962 2nd dose received – 61.6%
o Very slightly below UK average, but more than neighbouring authorities such as Reading and Swindon.
· In terms of local data: there had been 4 percent increase in the eligible population having received one and two vaccinations.
· 47 percent of people in West Berkshire aged 18-29 had been vaccinated. This was up from 26% two weeks ago.
· The take up in the 18-29 age group in Wokingham was 56 percent and 39 percent in Reading.
· The previous two weeks had seen the highest vaccination rate increase amongst the Mixed White/Asian and Mixed Other groups (9 percent each) followed by Chinese (6 percent)
· Amongst at-risk groups, activity had focused on second doses. Second vaccinations of people with serious mental illness now exceeded 80 percent.
· In the most deprived wards the vaccine take up was catching up with other areas, although take-up amongst young people in Greenham was low. Targeted information was being provided to improve the vaccination rates in these areas.
· There was a national push to maximise take-up of vaccination.
· The Kennet Centre was now allowing walk-in vaccinations on Fridays and Saturdays.
· It was confirmed that second doses were being given at 8 weeks.
The Board considered a presentation from Sarah Rayfield (Agenda Item 6) on vaccine uptake, hesitancy and inequalities. Key points were as follows:
· This presentation outlined the work being carried out by the Berkshire West Vaccine Inequalities Programme Board, whose aim was to reduce inequalities in vaccine uptake between different communities and those at greater risk from Covid-19
· Specific objectives of this project were:
o To Identify and reduce barriers to vaccine access
o To identify and address vaccine misinformation and fears among local communities in Berkshire West
o To identify community leaders and work within existing systems where in place, or develop Health & Wellbeing Ambassadors where required.
o To facilitate voluntary organisations to support local communities.
o To lay the foundations and build relationships to help address wider health inequalities beyond the vaccination programme.
· There were four main work streams:
o Previous locations visited: Two Saints and Lambourn
o Future visits:
§ 12th July – Central Family Hub, Thatcham
§ 13th July – Newbury College
§ Date TBC – Paices Hill
· Next steps included:
o Co-hosting a webinar to address questions about the vaccine
o Engagement within local communities
o Promotion of the vaccine amongst younger people
o Finalising the role of Health & Wellbeing Ambassadors
o Planning future visits for the Health on the Move Van.
Boeck asked why Paices Hill was selected as a scheduled stop for the Health on the Move van as this was not a big population centre. It was pointed out that there was a significant traveller community in that region and the hope was that the van would help improve vaccine uptake in that group.Dominic
Martha Vickers asked if councillors were involved in the identification of community leaders and potential Health Ambassadors? It was noted that the ambassadors were drawn from specific communities where there was a lower uptake of the vaccine rather than sending outside people into those communities.
The Board considered a presentation from Sean Murphy (Agenda Item 7) on the work of the Public Protection Partnership (PPP). Key points included:
· The PPP had been visiting premises identified as common exposure points to try and identify any connections between cases.
· Amongst event planners, there was growing confidence about the move to Step 4 and removal of restrictions had been growing and there were more management plans and risk assessments being submitted. The PPP was engaging with local businesses and events planners regarding the change in regulations and precautions to be taken.
· Local contact tracing activity was increasing. The majority of recent outbreaks were in schools, with some in workplaces.
· The work of the Hub had merged with the PPP, with isolation and contact tracing being considered together.
· Engagement with businesses would continue as it was likely there would still be questions about risk management going forward.
· Staff would require updated training when the new guidance on isolation was released.
The Board considered a presentation from Martin Dunscombe (Agenda Item 8) on Communications. Key points were as follows:
The next meeting was confirmed for 19th July 2021 with a provisional date agreed for a further meeting on 2nd August.
No other business was raised.