Agenda item

Actions of the Director of Public Health

To receive an update from the Director of Public Health on actions taken and powers that have been used.

Minutes:

The Director of Public Health noted that a national lockdown had been announced on the evening of Saturday 31 October for Thursday 5 November.  Members heard:

Actions have been taken based on high level data and settings, most within community and households, rather than workplace settings and managing cases and outbreaks of various sizes so as to take the correct actions to prevent spread.

Managing an outbreak or incident, regardless of the size, takes a significant amount of time and in certain settings require clear and quick actions to control spread.  Schools, for example, have been busy because every case requires some action to isolate staff or bubbles.  The Department of Education helpline has improved and is working well to provide support as schools respond to cases, hand in glove with Children’s Services and public health. 

In preparing locally for events, management of clear communication and animations on social media have ensured that the advice and guidance was clear and well-received.

Collaboration continues with unitaries and neighbours within Hampshire and Isle of Wight, as well colleagues across borders as needed for outbreaks or managing events across borders, as people, issues, events, and viruses are not limited by boundaries.

More local testing sites include 5 new ones within Hampshire and others due to open subject to DHSE approval.  Walk in sites have increased access and lab capacity has seen a rise.  Feedback continues to be received regarding testing sites to improve how they are working and make slight adjustments as needed.

Lateral flow testing that people can take themselves will be helpful but requires further validation tests to use them in appropriate situations.  Those with symptoms should use testing sites.  Work continues with the government, hospitals, and universities to use any variety of testing required to manage the virus and having access to testing and results.  Most tests are coming back within 24 hours with increased national lab capacity and continuous monitoring by the regional team.

In response to questions, Members heard:

There are about 534 schools in Hampshire and since September have had 133 cases with 101 bubbles closed down.  114 of these cases took place in October.  There are 26 special schools and 4 of these have had some level of infection and are more worrying as students are more vulnerable.  All schools have test kits available to them and current feedback received is that tests are taking 5-6 days to get results causing delays isolation.  The Director of Public Health confirmed that schools have limited tests to use in an emergency situation, but postal tests do take longer.  Where possible, students should go to a testing centre and only use school kits if absolutely necessary with isolation commencing straight away until a negative result is received.  The goal is to test quickly but positive symptoms should result in immediate isolation unless negative test.  This messaging will be revisited with Children’s Services.

While the new Anvil walk-in testing facility is ready and capable, it is not working to full capacity as it is not currently needed. 

Members noted the update.