The Director of Public Health will provide a verbal update on the latest position.
The Director of Public Health gave a presentation, confirming the key messages as an update to the current Covid 19 pandemic situation.
It was reported the most recent data showed 27,000 confirmed positive tests with an infection rate at approximately 600. This figure was falling but was considered to still be at a high level. It was noted that data relating to the most vulnerable groups showed that the rate in children had stabilised, but there had been an increase in the 60 plus category.
In terms of hospital admissions, it was reported that these had been high since November 2020 and when countywide admissions were factored in for various conditions, the pressure on hospitals was exacerbated.
Using information received from the UHL including city and county residents, there were 472 Covid patients, 1037 non-Covid patients and 199 unoccupied beds, which gave an 88% occupancy rate.
The data concerning mortality was confirmed, with 2929 deaths in 2020. Averages on previous years, were around 2500. It was also confirmed that 17% of deaths had a mention of Covid on certificates. There had been 509 deaths within the past 28 days. Charts were displayed within the presentation, which showed further detailed information of results, 7-day averages, age bands and hospital admissions.
In concluding the presentation, details of the access to updated information as available on the Council’s website were provided.
The Director also confirmed that the new variant presented a significant impact as the predominant variant, with recent data showing that 64% of cases were new variant cases.
It was emphasised that the situation was being monitored carefully and the key public health messages including social distancing, self-isolation, hand hygiene and ventilation remained important to reduce the rate.
The Chair invited Commission members to ask questions and the following points and responses were noted:
The scale of asymptomatic cases was clarified at a lower level than that reported recently, where data from the launch and rollout of the Fosse testing station could be used to identify trends. The actual figures could be circulated separately but it was expected that there were around 5-10% of asymptomatic cases.
Lateral flow testing had presented challenges and concerns with potentially misleading results as some tests and results were not being administered or read by health professionals. Strong guidance and advice were given accordingly, including the need for repeated tests to be undertaken. Concerns remained with negative test results being used as a means to enable rules and guidance to be ignored.
The effect on hospitals, their capacity and the morale of the workforce were significant. The role of volunteers had increased, and staff were receiving vaccinations. It was reported positively that the collaboration across local government, the voluntary and independent sectors and other partners had enhanced and the initiative to repeat this message had increased morale.
At this point, the Chair invited Councillor Whittle to ask his question, as recorded in the earlier item.
Councillor Whittle thanked the Chair for allowing the opportunity to address the Commission under his discretion, and asked the following question:
“In a Commons debate on Friday MPs were advised that an estimated 300,000 people in the UK are now living with the long-term effects of long Covid. What information do we have about the number of people suffering from long Covid in Leicester?
In response, it was reported that the long covid symptom study definitions suggested approximately 2% of cases (1250 people) would still have symptoms at 12 weeks, using the definition as described. A clinic established for long covid had been established with over 700 referrals since June 2020. It was noted that although initially established for hospital patients the clinic would now be accepting GP referrals and further information could be supplied to Councillor Whittle on the development of the clinic, including details of the referral pathways to ensure that long Covid cases were not missed.
The Chair referred to media reports relating to the rate of readmissions following discharge and questioned whether this was being monitored and considered as part of the ongoing consultation on the hospital plans. It was confirmed that there were regular reports prepared on the issues and that data could also be circulated separately.
The Chair then referred to over the rising data relating to the over 60s and concerns at the disproportionate levels in that age range.
The Director of Social Care responded on the position in care homes and the testing processes, with staff receiving PCR tests each week, and residents tested once every 4 weeks.
Previous results had stabilised for a period, with around 80 positive per week, of which 60 were staff and 20 were residents. The current increase was significant with the most recent data showing 216 positive cases and a shift in the ratio between staff and residents. Of the 105 care homes in the city, 35 had now confirmed positive tests. It was clarified that this was a national trend and that the data also compared similarly to other council areas in the region.
In response to further questions the dignity in end of life care was emphasised and it was recognised that hospital admissions from care homes were not always the most suitable option.
It was also confirmed as further reassurance that the CQC were involved in the process as an independent body to ensure appropriate external scrutiny of the care plan process.
In relation to repeat tests and the recording of data, particularly where more than one test site had been visited, it was confirmed that anyone receiving consistent and/or repeated positive tests would be recorded as one individual case.
The Vice-Chair asked for clarification concerning the extent of the policies to ensure a minimum impact on the workforce. In reply it was highlighted that phycological and physical support had been heightened, to ensure that staff were able stay in work. Recruitment had also increased including flexibility in the use of bank/agency staff and engagement with volunteers. There were also enhanced partnerships arrangements in place with support from external contributors, including the military.
In conclusion the Chair reminded members that issues and comments concerning the vaccination programme would be considered at the subsequent item.
It was AGREED:
1) That the update be noted.
2) Data relating to the rate of hospital readmissions following discharge would be circulated to Commission members after the meeting.