To receive an update from the Director of Public Health.
The Director of Public Health gave a brief update on the position within Trafford. Trafford had seen a sharp rise in cases followed by a drop and now the number of cases was starting to rise again. Trafford had the 22nd highest rates of cases in England with 66 new cases since the 14th August with a rate of 27.9 per 100,000 population. Cases were spread across the borough and there did not appear to be any clustering with cases often being the only one within their household. In Trafford there were more cases among men than women and 18 – 40 year olds were the age group that had the highest number of cases. There had started to be some cases in the over 70 and over 80 population, which were the most at risk age demographics.
The Director of Public Health then answered questions that had been provided in advance. The first question related to the increased lockdown, why this had been done at a GM level rather than locally, and why Trafford had been locked down when the figures were below the 50 cases per 100,000 trigger. The Director of Public Health responded that it had been a national decision by the Government that the lockdown would be across GM and at the time when the lockdown was implemented Trafford had the second highest rates across GM. Germany had a national trigger of 50 cases per 100,000 people for lockdown but England did not have a national trigger level. The Chair stated that the lockdown had come as a surprise given the information that had been provided at the Committee’s previous meeting and through national communications. The Director of Public Health agreed with the Chair and it had come as a surprise for everyone involved.
The next question was whether the lockdown restrictions would be lifted by local authorities or be done at the GM level. The Director of Public Health responded that it was unlikely that it would be done at a local level especially for an area like Trafford where a large number of residents from other areas came into the borough to work among other dependencies. Given the dependence of each local area upon the other parts of the conurbation it was very likely that a GM wide approach would be taken.
Councillor Lamb asked that if infection was spreading mainly within households would that mean that lockdowns would be lifted locally. The Director of Public Health stated that the pattern in Trafford showed that cases were not being spread among households with around 50% of cases being the sole case in their household. This may change going forward but was not what was currently being seen.
The Director of Public Health then responded to a question about the levels of infection among the BAME community. Within the most recent data there had been 286 positive cases of which 32 did not put their ethnicity. Out of the remaining 254 cases 70% were white (Compared to 85.5% of the population), 15% were from the Asian/Asian British (Compared to 7.9% of the Population) 6% in Black/Black British (Compared to 3% of the Population), 3.5% Mixed ethnicity (Compared to 2.9% of the population), and other nearly 5% (Compared to 1% of the population). These figures showed that people of Asian/Asian British and Black/Black British were over represented within the number of positive cases compared to their demographic of the population but the majority of positive cases were from the white population.
The next question that the Director of Public Health answered was why the Hale Barns ward consistently had some of the highest number of cases. The Director of Public Health stated that there was no definitive answer to this question but that the higher number of cases could result from the wards close proximity to a testing site or that it could be due to social or economic factors within the ward.
Councillor Barclay asked whether there was a way to measure compliance within the borough and whether Trafford were able to backwards trace infections to understand how it was being spread. The Director of Public Health responded that the Council only heard about people not abiding by the rules was when the police were called out to an incident. In the last week the police were called out around 38 times in Trafford. Other than those incidents the Council had no way of measuring compliance. With regards to backwards tracing the Council had not been able to do much of this so far due to not having sufficient data. The following week the Trafford’s local contract tracing would start which would enable backwards tracing to be conducted.
Councillor Barclay enquired as to whether there were any trends in the number of incidents where the police had been called out. The Director of Public Health responded that this was not data that Public Health Held but that it could be gained from another team and could form part of the next update to the Committee.
Councillor Newgrosh asked what levers were within the power of the Council to combat the spread of the virus. The Director of Public Health responded that at the GM level work was ongoing to identify what measures would work across the area as there was not a consistent pattern of spread across the conurbation. There were a number of measures that would work across GM but it was then a matter of how to implement them locally. One such measure was the closure of bars that had been running as night clubs and other establishments breaking the social distancing rules. Trafford had not had to close down any establishments yet but had been working very closely with bars and businesses to ensure that they knew and understood the rules. Some businesses had closed temporarily while they implemented sufficient measures to ensure the safety of staff and customers with the help of Trafford’s Environmental Support Officers.
Councillor Lloyd welcomed the local contact tracing and stated that the rules were vague and confusing which was leading to people not following them. The restrictions on people being able to see family members was particularly difficult for people especially when they felt that others were not following the rules. The Director for Public Health agreed with the Councillors points and added that as it did not appear that the pandemic would be over before winter and people had to start thinking about how they were going to live in a way that did not negatively impact their physical and mental health and wellbeing during those times with the restrictions in place.
The Executive Member for Health, Wellbeing, and Equalities added that police officers were going out on weekends with enforcement officers visiting premises to make sure that people were following the rules. The Executive Member for Health, Wellbeing, and Equalities noted the excellent work that the Public Health Team had done throughout the pandemic and that the Council would have been in a much worse situation without their work and support. The Director of Public Health thanked the Executive Member for the feedback and support and added that the work of the health protection colleagues from Public Health England had been of great help throughout the pandemic.
The Chair thanked the Director of Public Health the Public Health Team and everyone else who had worked with them during this crisis.
1) That the update be noted.
2) That the Director of Public Health and the Public Health Team be thanked for all of their work throughout the pandemic.
3) That the next update to the Board is to include figures of the number of incidents the police are called out to.