This report provides the Health and Wellbeing Board with an overview of the response and recovery strategy to protect Kent and Medway’s populations from COVID-19 impacts. It describes actions that Kent County Council (KCC) and Medway Council (MC), in partnership with key stakeholders, have taken to develop the COVID-19 Local Outbreak Control Plan (LOCP).
The report also sets out the governance arrangements and framework, through which KCC and MC will collaborate to deliver their statutory functions to protect their populations and reduce the spread of COVID-19.
This report was considered by the Kent and Medway Joint Health and Wellbeing Board on 28 July 2020 and the comments of the Joint Board are set out at section 4 of the report.
The Director of Public Health introduced the report which provided an overview of the response and recovery strategy to protect Kent and Medway’s populations from COVID-19 impacts through the Local Outbreak Control Plan (LOCP). He explained that whilst the Plan covered a Kent and Medway footprint, any response in Medway would be initiated through Medway’s own command and control systems.
Further to the report, he confirmed that Regional Testing Sites were now in place at both Ashford and Manston with Mobile Testing Sites operating across Kent and Medway. Additional capability in Medway would be provided through Local Testing Sites.
Given the timing of the meeting coinciding with the return of children to schools, he assured the Board that extensive engagement had been undertaken with school leaders to ensure that schools were well prepared to manage COVID-19 risks. The Director of People – Children and Adults Services added that it was important that as many Children as possible now return to school for the benefit of their future health and wellbeing. It was noted that in the coming weeks stress testing would be carried out with the local Universities and Further Education establishments.
Members then raised several comments and questions, which included:
· Care homes – it was noted that with respect to the Care Home Sector, there was a much-strengthened position through the Plan to prevent and respond to COVID-19 outbreaks.
· Test, Track, and Trace – in response to questions concerning test, track and trace, the Director Public Health explained that the national system was well established. At a local level, this work was led by the Kent Health Protection team and the rate of individuals not being able to be contacted was very low. He added that as the Director of Public Health (DPH), he received daily data on individual cases and whether they had been followed up and the system locally worked well. Nevertheless, DPHs across the South East had written to the Secretary of State to request that they be provided with an ability to interface more quickly with the test, track, and trace system.
· Local Testing Site – it was suggested that the Dockyard could be used as a testing site. The Director of Public Health explained that further information on Local Testing Sites would be shared in due course.
· Face coverings – in response to a concern expressed about the incorrect use of face coverings and comments suggesting further communication may be needed, the Director of Public Health reiterated how to correctly wear a face covering and he explained that the Council’s Environmental Protection team were undertaking a number of audits to identify areas and businesses that might need further support. Officers added that insight was gained from national and regional behavioural campaigns and was reflected regularly in the LOCP updates.
A suggestion was made that the Sunflower Lanyard be promoted to help identify individuals with hidden disabilities who may not be able to wear a face covering.
· Advice and support for local businesses – the Director of Public Health explained that local advice and guidance for businesses may be found on the Council’s website and through the Workplace team. Where it exists, businesses were signposted to national regulations, though local interpretation of requirements was provided. It was added that if Members found that information was not readily available, they could contact the Public Health team.
· Collaborative working – A request was made to place on record thanks to the Directors of Public Health of Kent and Medway.
The Health and Wellbeing Board:
a) noted the comments of the Kent and Medway Joint Health and Wellbeing Board set out at section 4 of the report;
b) agreed that the Kent and Medway Joint Health and Wellbeing Board fulfils the role of the Local Outbreak Engagement Board (LOEB) (i.e. to provide political ownership and public-facing engagement and communication for outbreak response); and
c) agreed to formally delegate the function of the LOEB to the Joint Board and agree the terms of reference of the LOEB to be fulfilled by the Joint Board.