Current Situation in York - Presentation
- Meeting of City of York Outbreak Management Advisory Board, Wednesday, 19 May 2021 5.30 pm (Item 138.)
The Assistant Director of Public Health gave a presentation which included updates on the number of new cases in the last seven days; our position in the region; NHS pathways triages in the previous seven days; the number of people in York Hospital with Covid-19 and ward level detail. The presentation also provided updates on testing; contact tracing and vaccination.
The following were the key areas highlighted
As at 19 May 2021:
· York had the lowest number of Covid-19 cases in the region and a lower number than the national average;
· There were three people in hospital with Covid-19;
· In the most recent period (01.05.2021 to 07.05.2021) there had been zero deaths due to Covid-19;
· There were no specific areas of the city that were a cause for concern in terms of numbers of cases and cases were mostly within the 20 to 40 age group;
· There were a small number of cases within schools but not enough to be classed as an outbreak;
· There were no outbreaks in care homes or work places;
· There was a site at the Designer Outlet for staff testing;
· There was a new test site at St. William’s College, set up in partnership with York Minster, for visitors and for people who worked in the city centre.
Work was ongoing to encourage people to undertake regular symptom free testing in light of a number of new Covid variants. Public health staff were door knocking in certain areas of the city to offer home testing kits and to encourage vaccination uptake. There were still people who did not know that home test kits were available and Outbreak Management Advisory Board members were asked to disseminate this information within their own organisations and networks.
The vaccination programme was going well and those in the 30+ age group were about to be invited for their first dose. In light of new variants the programme had also been accelerated for those who had already had their first vaccination and were awaiting their second. Additionally the opening hours of the vaccination site would be extended over the weekend.
The final slide of the presentation covered uptake of the vaccine at ward level. There were some differences and a more detailed report around this was due to be presented to this board at their July meeting. Currently both ‘door knocking’ in some areas of the city and telephone calls were being made to those who had not yet taken up the offer of vaccination to try and increase uptake. Work was also ongoing to look at a possible city centre venue for vaccination and how pharmacies might be able to support the programme.
The reasons that people were not having a vaccination were being collated and these included concerns around the safety and efficacy of the vaccines and practical issues such as getting to a vaccination site and childcare.
The presentation was added to the agenda following the meeting.
The Board raised the following in relation to the presentation:
· Whether the report being prepared around vaccine inequality would include pro-active interventions to encourage uptake; it was confirmed that it would.
· The Director of Public Health (DPH) confirmed that one barrier identified was getting time off work to go for the vaccination; the DPH would be writing a letter, in partnership with NHS colleagues, this would be sent to all employers in the city encouraging them to give their employees paid time off to be vaccinated.
· A question was asked around the opening of hospitality venues in the city and what support was being given to these businesses. In response it was noted that the majority of businesses were committed to working with the council and the public health team to ensure that their businesses were as safe as possible for staff, customers and visitors.
· There was a question around the role of community groups in vaccination uptake and it was noted that sharing information about the vaccine reliably was key and community groups could help with this.
· A follow on question was asked around counteracting misinformation and reference was made to a leaflet in circulation with incorrect information about the vaccine contained within it. The Head of Communications was using the Behavioural Insights Team at Public Health England to myth bust misinformation.
Additionally the Head of Communications took the following away:
Action: to look at whether vaccine uptake is lower in the areas where the leaflet containing misinformation had been circulating.
· For the localised contact tracing service, funding was in place until the end of this financial year with current sites being funded until the end of June. Further national guidance was expected about this soon.
· What was happening in York in relation to the variant first identified in India? It was confirmed that there were 13 different variants and only a few of these had been seen in York. However, the variant identified in India was highly transmissible and it may be that cases would emerge over the coming weeks, especially as Covid restrictions were relaxed. Any rise in cases may not have the same impact as they did in December, with the Kent variant, due to an increased number of people having been vaccinated
· Businesses were cautiously optimistic about the relaxation of restrictions although there were some concerns about the final lifting on 21st June being delayed
· People were returning to using public transport
The Board noted the update.