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Agenda item

Covid-19 Update

Update by the Director of Public Health

Minutes:

7.1

Greg Fell, the Director of Public Health, provided a Coronavirus (Covid-19)

position statement.

 

On the epidemiology, he stated that Sheffield still has a high infection rate, which was fluctuating and although this was beginning to fall, we still have 300 cases per 100,000 residents over a seven-day period. He stated that Sheffield has the second lowest seven-day rate in Yorkshire; 15 % of people test positive; and that this is still principally an issue of household transmission.  Geographically, the east of Sheffield is becoming more of a concern due to factors such as lower car ownership; people being more likely to be in occupations where there are face to face interactions with other humans; and where there are denser more crowded communities with more houses in multiple occupation.  Age specific seven-day infection rates are decreasing across all age bands and it was expected that these trends would continue in that general pattern.

 

He stated that hospitals continue to be busy.  They are coping and activity is flattening, but this is at a high rate, at a busy time for the NHS as winter approaches, making the room for manoeuvre very small, almost non-existent, so we do need to take care.

 

We are now 2 weeks into national lockdown, prior to that we were in a tiered system of restrictions and there's no doubt that the tiered system has helped significantly to flatten off the rate of growth.  He showed that mobility is falling which is an indicator of social mixing, that social mixing is an indicator of cases and that cases is an indicator of people becoming ill.  The purpose of the lockdown is to get our R rate below 1, to get the level of infection back to the level of cases in May, reduce the number of contacts per case and to reset expectations and behaviour.  It was Important to recognise that people are fed up and we need to guard against this, or rates will rise again.  It is not clear what happens after the 4 week lockdown at this stage, although it is likely to be followed by more tiered restrictions.  The scenarios for the next six months as presented by SAGE were noted.

 

The strategy and plan agreed by Cabinet - to keep people safe, protect the vulnerable and reopen Sheffield, remains in place.  He outlined details of the operational plan, known as the outbreak control plan which was based on a number of components that make a difference. He referred to a number of talking points and myths about the virus and emphasised that it remains a really dangerous respiratory virus that's very easy to spread.  The best way to protect the health service, protect vulnerable loved ones and the economy is to keep community transmission low.

 

He stated that testing will continue to be very important and that significant work to prepare for the roll out of the vaccine has begun, with some doses available this year. He outlined the priorities for the roll out of the vaccine, which will take 3 months minimum, possibly upto 6 months.  It was confirmed that we have localised contact tracing in place and that this is doing exactly what we want it to do.  He emphasised that the fundamentals remain the fundamentals - washing your hands, keeping your distance, wearing face covering and limiting the number of people you have contact with.

 

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