Agenda item

COVID-19 Local Outbreak Management Plan Briefing

This report will provide an update on recent changes to the Government’s approach to tackling COVID-19 since the last update was presented to the Board on 18 November 2021.





The Director of Public Health (DPH) provided an overview of the current rates of COVID-19 infection in England and Medway. The recent surge in infections associated with the Omicron variant appeared to have peaked in recent weeks. Infection rates were highest in school aged young children but were slowly coming down. Mortality rates were much lower than previous waves and hospitalizations associated with COVID-19 infection were reduced. The DPH updated the HWB on progress made in relation to rollout of the COVID-19 vaccination programme. He also provided an overview of current and future testing arrangements for COVID-19 in Medway.


The following issues were discussed:


Vaccination and testing- whilst it was expected that current legislation and associated restrictions to control COVID-19 might end sooner than expected (24 February), it was important that local residents continue to follow guidance and take up the offer of vaccination if they had not already done so. The DPH said he believed access to free PCR test kits would still be available for those people deemed to be at greatest risk of infection. He said that to address the concerns that many people might have, in particular those clinically vulnerable, it was necessary to refresh our communication strategies to ensure people were clear about the support available and the actions they needed to take to protect themselves and the wider community.


The new normal- a question was raised about what the new normal might be, how would society function without formal restrictions to manage COVID-19, such as whether people would wear face coverings and undergo regular testing.  The DPH advised that the Health Protection Board that assessed risks had used statistical modelling to try and predict the rates of infection and quantify the impact of changes in people’s behaviour. It was difficult to accurately predict what people might do, but it was likely there will be ongoing use of face coverings by some individuals and some for testing. People would choose to physical distance from others even if not regulated. We should all try and follow the basic hygiene principles of regular hand washing which would help to reduce the spread of other infections such as seasonal influenza. 


Learning to live with COVID- there was a reflection on reduction in the number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals, and the compassionate conversation between medical colleagues and patients, focussed on increasing vaccination rates.


There was a suggestion that to build future resilience, there should be ongoing longer-term preparation and planning for any future pandemics. This should include vaccinator training for non-medical persons. This would free up clinicians to do more specialist work.  There was also a request for more work with employers and guidance on any future vaccination programme. This work to engage with them to ensure they are aware of the benefits of supporting their workforce to manage COVID-19 and facilitate self-isolation were required. The DPH advised that the frequency of any future booster vaccination programme would be a matter for the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation to decide. In terms of future preparedness, there was ongoing work through local forums that would address training and development, workplace engagement and the general response to COVID-19. 




The Health and Wellbeing Board noted the report and expressed heartfelt

appreciation for all officers in Medway Council, in particular the

Public Health team, NHS and volunteers who had responded to the

pandemic over the past 2 years.

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