To receive a briefing from the Director of Public Health.
The Committee considered a report by the Director of Public Health and received a presentation on Public Health's response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The presentation set out timelines for the pandemic: how Public Health had supported both local councils; the containment, delay, and lockdown phases; testing; the impact and easing of lockdown; mortality rates in Dorset in hospitals and care homes; and the latter phase of track and trace, and test and contain.
Covid-19 cases in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole (BCP) and Dorset areas remained low compared to the South West and the rest of England. It was not known what impact the increased number of visitors would have but officers would react quickly to any increased cases. The Local Authorities had received a test and trace grant which would be used to provide resources when there was evidence of an outbreak rather than carrying out testing of large numbers of people. This was in line with Public Health England guidance.
The Local Outbreak Management Plans (LOMP) for both Councils had been published the previous day which would enable swift action to be taken should there be any local outbreaks.
Members asked questions and commented in relation to the app tested on the Isle of Wight, the test booking 119 telephone number, difficulties experienced with the on-line booking system, whether any lessons had been learned particularly with regard to dealing with any second peak, the need for local testing, tracking and isolation, particularly if there was a second peak, whether any hot spots had been identified for pro-active testing; and how an outbreak at a meat processing plant would be dealt with.
It was explained that:-
· there were issues regarding personal date with the app tested on the Isle of Wight and it had been decided to establish a national telephone-based service which was now up and running. It was not known whether the app would be progressed;
· the 119 telephone number had been in place since 28 May 2020 and had been widely publicised through a national media campaign, on billboards at football matches, and TV advertisements. It was the main route for booking a test and more publicity would be given to it via the publication of the LOMP and through other local communications;
· lessons had been learned during the pandemic and continued to be identified. With the introduction of the LOMP, Public Health now felt they had been given the tools to respond quickly to any outbreaks;
· the Health Protection Board was working through a list of high-risk settings so that there was a clear understanding of what needed to be done quickly to address any outbreak;
· extensive testing would not be carried out unless there was large outbreak;
· the response to possible cases remained isolation, testing and reducing contact; and
· Public Health had links to neighbouring councils who had their own LOMPs. They worked alongside Environmental Health Officers with regard to communicable diseases and they had enforcement powers. Some work on national powers which may be devolved to local councils was under way. Should there be any local outbreaks, the Health and Wellbeing Board, through the Outbreak Management Board, would clearly communicate any action to be taken and reasons for this.
The Chairman thanked the Director of Public Health for his report and thanked everyone who had been involved in the response to the pandemic. She asked that links to the two Local Outbreak Management Plans be forwarded to the members of the respective Councils.
That links to the two Local Outbreak Management Plans be sent to the members of the respective Councils.