Jo Broadbent provided Members with an update on the latest Thurrock COVID Data and Intelligence:
· Current Picture, Rate per 100K Population and Positivity – Thurrock compared to some of our near neighbours had the highest rate. The overall rate is 1800 per 100K residents which was higher when compared to last January.
· Positive Rates had been over 40% in the first couple of weeks of the year which again had been the highest positivity rate we had seen, highest rate amongst nearest neighbours, Thurrock was 69th in the country out of all the upper tier local authorities.
· Current Picture, Positive Tests by Age Band – Rates currently highest in younger adults aged between 20 and 40. Period before Christmas the highest rates were in the 10 to 19 age group with very high rates circulating amongst the secondary age young people. Since then Under 18s rates have fallen. Rates in all the adult age groups had increased over new year but have now started to decrease with a low rate in the over 60s.
· BTUH Bed Occupancy by Type – Massive spike in January 2021 with a lot of people in hospital requiring ventilation compared to rates. There had been an increase of hospitalisation in 2022 but nowhere near to the same extent with the numbers requiring ventilation and not just oxygen therapy being much lower.
· Vaccinations, First and Second Dose – Over 50s had very high rates of uptake and very very high in the over 65s but with lower rates in younger adults. Those aged between 16 and 40 the percentages had not changed that much over the past few months.
· Vaccinations – Boosters – Very high rates of uptake of the booster in over 65s and high numbers in the over 50s. Lower vaccination uptake in adults is a typical pattern seen with vaccination rates in Thurrock.
· A lot of work had been carried out about engagement and communications with a lot of social media activity targeting different age groups. Working with EPUT to provide local non primary care vaccination clinics to look at other locations in the borough, having weekend pop up clinics at various locations around the borough. Weekend pop up clinics would be supported by the national surge Rapid Response team. Secured funding from the Community Vaccination Champions Fund and would work with CVS colleagues to develop an action plan around community vaccinations and recruit champions to engage with particular groups in the community.
· Highlights – Confirmed Cases – 11 schools with a live outbreak, 16 care homes with a live outbreak or in recovery from outbreaks, community transmission had decreased in recent week, evidence of high activity in care home settings and evidence of high activity in educational settings.
Jo Broadbent concluded that:
· Thurrock overall rate of positive tests had decreased over the past few days but remained towards the higher end of those seen throughout the pandemic.
· Test positively remained towards the highest levels recorded during the pandemic and well above this time last year.
· The number of PCR tests taken by Thurrock residents had decreased in the last week but remained high.
· LFD tests comprised the majority of testing with over 18,000 tests recorded last week.
· Geographic distribution of cases showed all LSOAs had seen a positive test result in the most recent 14 days.
· Hospital bed use had decreased in recent days but remained higher than observed throughout most of the last 12 months.
· Grays Beach and Orsett Health testing sites extended to May/June 2022. Targeted Community Testing extended to 31 March 2022, Critical Worker test programme to start.
· Key Priority would be to maximise vaccine uptake amongst all priority groups through Community Vaccine Champions and targeted surge.
Councillor Ralph thanked Jo Broadbent for the update and questioned whether the slight drop of PCR tests on the 7 December 2021 had been due to the lack of PCR tests available to which Jo Broadbent stated she was not sure.
Councillor Ralph questioned how the money would be spent to increase the vaccination figures, apart from the pop up events and education how was the money going to benefit this program and whether a better idea would be to pay people to have the vaccine. Jo Broadbent stated an action plan was being developed working closely with the CVS to try and recruit community champions, working in particular communities where they would understand the barriers and concerns of those within these communities. A lot of work had been undertaken and there would always be people who did not want the vaccine. It had to be made as easy as possible for people to get the vaccine which having the pop up events in local areas may help. Councillor Ralph noted the community champions were being paid to do this to which Jo Broadbent stated additional would be paid on publicity and communications and this was a way of engaging with the community in the right location to get the right message across.
Councillor Piccolo suggested an example of increasing vaccine numbers would be to work with the CVS to hold a music / open air event and to offer free entry to those with proof of vaccination which could attract a reasonably good number if the right acts were performing.
Councillor Fish stated that education was important for the younger age bracket on how COVID and the effects of long-COVID could affect each person differently. With the CVS already successfully engaging in the community to make individuals more aware.
Councillor Polley endorsed the work the community champions would be undertaking as having volunteered on the three day vaccination programme had walked into a few shops and spoke to people in their working capacity and understood how hard it was for some to get time off to make an appointment.
Councillor Ralph stated the vaccination web sites listed on the website had to be kept up to date and regularly checked.