This report will provide an update on the Local Outbreak Management Plan including top-level outcomes of recent stress tests made since the last update was presented to the Board on 2 September 2021.
On measures to boost vaccination up-take rates, the DPH stressed that this required additional efforts by disseminating correct messages from trustworthy source to people who had misconception about vaccination.
Concern was raised that some employees of the NHS responsible for administering vaccination were themselves unvaccinated. The DPH reassured members that infection prevention and control measures including testing and face-coverings were taken to keep people safe. The Chief Nurse/CCG considered it important to regularly engage with NHS colleagues to understand any reasons why they were reluctant to be vaccinated and support them to get vaccinated. Given the law changes, all front-line NHS workers would be required to have been vaccinated by April 2022.
The new normal – with reference to the social cost of the huge anxiety caused by local outbreaks of COVID-19 at different times of the year, a board member was concerned about measures to be taken to enable the community to move forward in 2022. TheDPH suggested that in general people had adapted well to the pandemic. The current phase with good protection offered by clinical treatments and vaccination meant there was less jeopardy than the original first and second waves. There were good support systems in place and the third sector had proved invaluable. He advised members that in the new year, it was likely that COVID-19 would be an endemic disease, given the advances in science and medicine to protect our population. The Director of People said that the support available to the Medway population was second to none. She shared her experience of witnessing lots of support and reassurance given timely to a local people and the efficiency of the Medway testing programme.
In reply to a question about what precautions needed to be taken over the next 6 weeks to manage this disease over the Christmas period, the DPH explained that events in Medway were allowed to take place in a COVID-secure manner. Appropriate risk assessments should be carried out for any events or activities. Measures to minimise the risk of transmission of the COVID-19 virus included ventilation for indoor events, physical distancing, use of face-coverings and rapid follow-up and monitoring by local and national test & trace. He further advised that if there was an imminent threat to the public health, consideration might be given to invoking additional powers held in line with the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restriction) (England) (No. 3) Regulations 2020. The DPH also undertook to circulate a briefing note on ‘Long COVID-19’.
The Health and Wellbeing Board noted the update presented in the report.