To receive an update from the Director of Public Health
Councillor Slater gave a brief introduction to the item and informed the Committee that Trafford were due to go into tier 3 lockdown as of midnight and that new communications would be going out to the public informing them of what the new rules were.
Following the introduction the Director of Public Health updated the Committee on latest position within Trafford. The Committee were informed that Trafford had seen a slight reduction in the number of new cases but this was a reduction in cases among the younger population and there had actually been an increase in cases among the over 65 population, who were the people most vulnerable to COVID 19. The hospitalisation rates had started to increase and this was expected to continue in the next two to three weeks due to the increase in infections among the over 65 population.
There continued to be high rates of infection across the board with the two highest areas being Clifford ward and Hale Barns ward. Rates were over 400 per 100,000 in all four of the Trafford localities and there were only two wards with rates of less than 200 per 100,000. There was still a delay in receiving test results but there did not appear to be any issues in accessing tests within the area. The rate of people going for testing had dropped and it was thought to be due to publicity around sharing testing data with the police. The percentage of positive results remained high which suggested that the decline in people going for testing was not due to a reduction in the number of cases. Contact tracing was working well locally but there were still issues with the national system. The team were doing a lot of work with schools and businesses when they had cases to determine who was likely to have been infected and whether the school or business needed to be closed.
The cases within schools had been community transmissions with a limited number of transmissions happening within schools. With regards to community engagement members of the team were due to go out in North Trafford the following day to talk to Mosque leaders and to go into shops and businesses to pass on information across the community.
Following the overview Committee Members were given the opportunity to ask questions. Councillor Barclay asked about fines and the involvement of the police and how the Council could counter the impact of that message. Councillor Barclay also asked whether there had been any further development of a local contract tracing system. The Director of Public Health responded that the legislation around the fines stated that it was up to local areas to implement and Greater Manchester would not be sharing data with the police due to the impact it had on people’s willingness to be tested. Fines may be issued but they would be for extreme cases such as businesses who continued to operate when they had been told to close. There were plans for a local system across Greater Manchester and additional funding was to be made available for that. However, the Director of Public Health told the Committee that with the current level of infections it was not possible to contact trace effectively. Over 110 people were testing positive per day and there was no way that all of their contacts could be traced and contacted.
The Chair added that contract tracing had been publicised as a solution to the pandemic but now they were being told that this was not the case. The Director of Public Health responded that Track and Trace could work when you had relatively low number of cases where the amounts of contacts were manageable. When numbers reached the levels that were being seen across the country contract tracing was no longer feasible. There was a need for the community to work together by following the guidance strictly to get the rates down to a point where contract tracing could be effective.
Councillor Winstanley asked what the response had been from those working on the national system when they were told that the data they were producing was not reliable. The Director of Public Health explained that they did not have conversations with the providers but they reported any issues to NHS England. The Director of Public Health added that due to the bad publicity the service had received people were not cooperating with the service which exacerbated the issues.
Following the Committees questions the Chair thanked the Director of Public Health and all of the staff that she worked with both within the Council and at the GM level for the excellent work that they continued to provide throughout the Pandemic.
RESOLVED: That the report be noted.