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Agenda item

COVID 19 Update

Minutes:

Councillor Sue Lukes, Executive Member Community Safety and Pandemic Response was present, together with Linzi Roberts Egan, Chief Executive

 

During consideration of the report the following main points were made –

 

·         Since March Council’s emergency contingency plans have been routinely revised and updated for each service to ensure effective management of the pandemic in Islington. The Borough Emergency Control Centre continues to operate, together with the Islington Outbreak Control Board, together with the Fairer Together Partnership

·         Testing – the Assembly Hall test centre opened in December to provide Lateral Flow testing and in January the Vibast Centre opened in EC1V with the Arsenal Community Hub. From 18 January testing capacity across the 3 sites has increased to 10000-14000 per week and two further sites are planned

·         Vaccination role out – continue to work closely with neighbouring boroughs, and locally two primary care delivery sites Hanley and Bingfield opened in December 2020 focusing on vaccinations at present for the over 80’s. All acute hospitals across the borough have vaccine supply and are focused on health staff and outpatients. In addition roving teams have been launched and are focused on care home residents and staff. A mass vaccination site is ready, based at the Business Design Centre, and is planned to go live in February. As part of an initial wave of pharmacy led vaccination centres, planning is underway to assess the feasibility of a site at ARC Centre, and if this proceeds it will fill a geographical gap in local provision

·         Communication – continued to communicate extensively with residents, businesses and staff using a range of channels to reach target audiences. This has meant responding at pace to last minute Government guidance

·         Test and Trace support – the service operates 9.00 a.m – 5.00 p.m. 7 days a week, and brings together a range of services. Since March the We are Islington service has assisted over 15000 people, including help with food, financial assistance, medication support, fuel support and welfare concerns. In addition, We are Islington worked with NHS, Adult Social Care and Housing to design and implement a new Integrated Hospital Discharge Pathway as part of the We are at Islington offer. Discussions are underway to develop a similar offer to further support the NHS by preventing unnecessary hospital admissions and facilitating recovery of residents in the community

·         Workforce data and support – The percentage of staff unable to work peaked on 22 December at 23%, but this dropped to 21% in early January 2021. The percentage of staff working on site has remained approximately 30-40% throughout this period. On average 80.5% of critical services reported performing as normal

·         Public Health impacts – Islington came out of the second lockdown in early December with an average of 250 confirmed cases, and a positivity rate of 5-6%. Confirmed infections rose rapidly throughout December reaching a range of 1800-2000 per week and a positivity rate of 25% or higher. Noted that the underlying rate of infection would have been higher than this, as many infections are asymptomatic. Cases fell in the second week of January to 1400 with the positivity rate declining to 18.5%. However pressure on hospitalisations has increased, with cumulative deaths since March being 182 since March last year, however with increased hospitalisations fatalities may increase. The Committee noted that the figures contained in the report were now updated and since compilation of the report and in the current week positive cases of infection had fallen to just under 1000, with 25 deaths

·         Continue to monitor and take action to prevent disproportionate impact of COVID 19 on BAME residents. Live analysis takes place of PCR testing against positivity of tests by ethnicity, and engagement is taking place with community members and faith leaders, by a range of tools

·         Virtual training is now available to front line staff and volunteers to better support  residents and is actively targeted at BAME voluntary sector organisations and faith leaders, and pre-existing strong partnerships with the community have paid dividends

·         Concern was expressed that London is vaccinating less people than the rest of the country, and that this was not acceptable. It was stated that work is taking place to attract volunteers, in collaboration with other Local Authorities, however many residents had had difficulty with the NHS portal in enabling them to volunteer

·         In response to a question as to the May GLA and local by-elections, it was stated that if these were to proceed, this would place great logistical difficulties in resourcing and also difficulties with social distancing requirements. It was felt that it is unlikely that the elections would go ahead in the current circumstances but that Members would be kept informed

·         In relation to whether there had been an increase in the use of food banks during the pandemic, and the demographics, and it was stated that this information would be provided following the meeting

·         Reference was made to the vaccination of the BAME population, and the lower uptake, and a Member enquired the action being taken to address this. It was stated that work is taking place to influence the specific communities where take up is low, in order to increase vaccination rates in these groups. Work is taking place with faith leaders, community groups and Mosques

·         Lateral flow tests have been introduced, and there is a high take up from the BAME community, and prioritisation is being given to residents who have to go to work and to secondary/primary school pupils

 

RESOLVED:

That the report be noted, and the information requested above, in relation to the increase in use of food banks and demographics be circulated to Members of the Committee

 

 

The Chair thanked Councillor Lukes and Linzi Roberts – Egan for   attending

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