A verbal update on Covid.
David Scott, Head of Communities, gave an update on the most recent Covid figures for the Borough. There were four new cases reported on April 13, making a total of 8,400. In the week up until April 8 the infection rate was 27.1 per 100,000 people, compared to 41.6 people per 100,000 in the previous week. The Royal Borough was broadly in line with the averages for the South East and England as a whole, whereas Slough and some of the west London boroughs had higher than average rates. Infection rates among younger age groups had risen but were now starting to decrease. Hospital admission rates and the number of patients who were hospitalised due to Covid were both falling. For the week March 26 to April 1, ten wards in the Royal Borough had reported no new cases.
The Panel was told two main lateral flow test centres had been set up in the Royal Borough, and a community collect arrangement had been introduced, based out of the car park at Ascot racecourse.
Better analysis of vaccination take-up rates was now being provided. It was apparent there were inequalities in vaccination rates within ethnic minorities and areas with higher levels of deprivation. However when applying for a lateral flow test, residents had the option of ‘prefer not to say’ when asked for their ethnicity. David Scott said node drawing was taking place to see if there was any link to cases outside the Borough, compared to those within it.
The Chairman said some residents had asked if they should still get lateral flow tests even after having one or both vaccinations. David Scott said the vaccination did not guarantee a person would not get infected, even if they were asymptomatic. As many people as possible were being encouraged to get the lateral flow kits, regardless of whether or not they had already been vaccinated.
The Chairman asked if any mapping was scheduled to take place following the influx of people from all parts of the country coming to Windsor to pay their respects following the death of Prince Phillip. David Scott said the scope of contact tracing was being explored, and the message of encouraging people not to travel to royal residences and the fact there were other ways for people to pay their respects was being communicated out.
David Scott reiterated that household transmission was still the most common way of the virus being spread. Young children were viewed as being the least vulnerable in terms of infection, but an increase in rates had been noted due to them being more likely to mix and not be able to maintain social distancing. Work was continuing with schools to ensure the continuation of good practice to limit the spread of the virus. Cllr Del Campo said she was concerned the number of infections among primary school children was higher than reported due to them generally being asymptomatic and not being tested, but they would then spread the disease to other people. David Scott said use of the community collect scheme was being encouraged for this reason.
Responding to a question from Cllr Bhangra, David Scott said there had been a reversal in inequality in terms of infection and vaccination rates among ethnic minority groups. There had been a lot of comms work taking place to stop misinformation. Communications were being sent out to spread the message that people observing Ramadan would not be considered to be breaking their fast if they received a vaccination, as it was not delivered intravenously.