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Agenda item

Covid-19 situational report


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 19th July. It was emphasised that it would be a personal choice, and the council could support people with making decisions about how to protect themselves and others from Covid-19.

Councillor Vickers asked about the issue of those who were double vaccinated taking greater risks. It was confirmed that they were less likely to get sick or be hospitalised, but it was still possible and they could also spread the virus to others.

Councillor Vickers asked if those in hospital were more likely to have underlying health conditions. Matt Pearce indicated that there was no data available, but it may be gathered in future.

Councillor Vickers suggested the need to encourage a mentality of caring for others rather than individuals considering their own safety (e.g. wearing masks in public places). It was noted that double-layered face masks improved protection.

Meradin Peachey indicated that the Office of National Statistics had estimated 1.5 percent of people had long-Covid, but the problem with measuring long-Covid was that it depended on self-reporting. Most sufferers were over 35 and had underlying conditions. Also, national data suggested that vaccinated people accounted for around 10-20 percent of hospitalised cases.

It was noted that the number of people in Royal Berkshire Hospital were very low and fluctuated week by week.

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