Home Coronavirus: News and Advice Knowsley Outbreak Management Board – Thursday 6 January 2022

Knowsley Outbreak Management Board – Thursday 6 January 2022

by Gemma Melling

Please note that the data contained within this article is correct at the time of publication – as this is a changing picture, further updates will be provided to supersede this information as and when available.

Anybody relying on this information should check that it reflects the latest published position.

Knowsley’s latest Outbreak Management Board meeting took place on Thursday 6 January 2022.

Please note that the data contained within this article is correct at the time of publication – as this is a changing picture, further updates will be provided to supersede this information as and when available.

Anybody relying on this information should check that it reflects the latest published position.

Knowsley’s latest Outbreak Management Board meeting took place on Thursday 6 January 2022.  At the meeting, the Board reviewed the latest data available and updates on the current level of COVID-19 cases in the Borough.

In summary:-

  • Knowsley is continuing to see a significant rise in case numbers – driven by the Omicron variant. The number of people testing positive for the virus has risen by 539% within a month.

 

  • Current recorded case levels in Knowsley are the highest that they have ever been at any point throughout the pandemic (2,787 per 100,000 population) and Knowsley is within the Top 3 places in the United Kingdom in terms of the highest rates of infection.

 

  • The picture in Knowsley is mirrored across the region with high levels of infection being seen across Cheshire and Merseyside. In fact, five local authority areas within the Liverpool City Region currently appear within the country’s Top 10 of places with the highest infection rates.

 

  • On a positive note, testing rates within Knowsley are currently amongst the highest in the United Kingdom.

 

  • Indications are that case levels have yet to peak. In addition, the impact of schools returning has not yet been experienced.  The potential for further increases in case levels is a significant cause for concern, particularly given the significant pressures already being experienced in local hospitals and the wider health system.

 

  • Local hospitals are reporting increasing numbers of patients with COVID-19 – with around 18% of local hospital beds currently being occupied by COVID-19 patients.

 

  • Despite the very high levels of infection and community transmission, it does appear that the Omicron variant generally results in milder symptoms for most individuals – local hospitals are reporting less demand on High Dependency Unit/ Intensive Care Unit beds than in previous waves.

 

  • However, hospitals and other public services are reporting significant issues with regard to staff absences as a consequence of the high levels of infection within the community.

 

  • In view of high absence levels, many organisations are having to instigate their business continuity plans to manage workload and maintain services. This will be a key challenge for essential services in the coming weeks.

 

  • A further current challenge is the availability of tests – the national supply chain is struggling to meet the increasing levels of demand caused by high infection rates. In November 2021, 35,329 LFT tests were distributed from Knowsley’s community testing facilities.  This rose to 94,331 in December 2021, and since 4 January 2022 more than 17,000 kits have already been issued.

 

  • The Council and partner agencies continue to experience issues with delayed stock and/or limited numbers of tests being provided. In view of the supply chain problems, all areas of the country have been asked by the Government to use their existing supplies to prioritise testing for frontline workers.

 

  • The Board agreed that this was a key concern, as the availability of testing is key both to enabling people to get back to work quickly so that essential services can continue to function and also ensuring that people do not unwittingly spread the virus.

 

  • In addition to the problems with LFT tests, delays in the processing of PCR tests are also presenting challenges – with some people having to wait up to 4 to 5 days for their results. This is having a particular impact for key workers (e.g. in the care sector) with staff being unable to return to work until they receive a negative PCR test result.

 

  • Knowsley Clinical Commissioning Group provided an update on the roll-out of the vaccination programme across the Borough and confirmed that 45% of the Knowsley eligible population had now received two vaccination doses and Booster vaccine.

 

  • Protection levels in the most vulnerable age groups (60+) are good but some concern remains about uptake within the younger cohorts – particularly the under 30s.

 

  • Uptake in Knowsley of vaccinations/boosters prior to Christmas was high but the rate of uptake has slowed considerably over the Christmas holiday period. This could be due to a number of factors, including the Bank Holidays, and high numbers of people with COVID-19 and therefore unable to receive the vaccine after testing positive (you can only receive your booster 28 days or more after a positive COVID-19 test).

 

  • Additional vaccination clinics to increase capacity have been arranged to run throughout January 2022 with a view to boosting uptake levels once more.

 

  • The Board was keen to explore all options in terms of the delivery of vaccines (e.g. considering locations beyond only healthcare settings, and at events etc.) in order to make it as easy and convenient as possible for people to be vaccinated.

 

  • An overview was provided regarding the current picture in Knowsley care homes – many of which have reported COVID-19 cases recently. Again, the feedback in general is that the Omicron strain of the virus results in much milder illness and is causing less serious outcomes.

 

  • The Public Health team outlined their continued support and work with the Borough’s schools in responding to changing guidance and the return of face-to-face teaching following the Christmas school holidays.

 

  • Knowsley residents continue to be reminded of the steps which can be taken to lessen the risk of transmission. These include the wearing of face coverings in some settings, ensuring that rooms are well ventilated, and regular hand washing and testing.

The Knowsley Outbreak Management Board is responsible for overseeing Knowsley’s Outbreak Management Plan – you can read it on Knowsley Council’s website.

The Board is chaired by the Leader of the Council, Councillor Graham Morgan, and membership includes the Council’s Adult Social Care Cabinet Member (Councillor Louise Harbour), Resources Cabinet Member (Councillor Jayne Aston), Health Cabinet Member (Councillor Christine Bannon), and Chief Executive (Mike Harden) alongside Knowsley’s Director of Public Health (Dr Sarah McNulty) and representatives from Merseyside Police (when required).

In summary:-

  • Knowsley is continuing to see a significant rise in case numbers – driven by the Omicron variant. The number of people testing positive for the virus has risen by 539% within a month.
  • Current recorded case levels in Knowsley are the highest that they have ever been at any point throughout the pandemic (2,787 per 100,000 population) and Knowsley is within the Top 3 places in the United Kingdom in terms of the highest rates of infection.
  • The picture in Knowsley is mirrored across the region with high levels of infection being seen across Cheshire and Merseyside. In fact, five local authority areas within the Liverpool City Region currently appear within the country’s Top 10 of places with the highest infection rates.
  • On a positive note, testing rates within Knowsley are currently amongst the highest in the United Kingdom.
  • Indications are that case levels have yet to peak. In addition, the impact of schools returning has not yet been experienced.  The potential for further increases in case levels is a significant cause for concern, particularly given the significant pressures already being experienced in local hospitals and the wider health system.
  • Local hospitals are reporting increasing numbers of patients with COVID-19 – with around 18% of local hospital beds currently being occupied by COVID-19 patients.
  • Despite the very high levels of infection and community transmission, it does appear that the Omicron variant generally results in milder symptoms for most individuals – local hospitals are reporting less demand on High Dependency Unit/ Intensive Care Unit beds than in previous waves.
  • However, hospitals and other public services are reporting significant issues with regard to staff absences as a consequence of the high levels of infection within the community.
  • In view of high absence levels, many organisations are having to instigate their business continuity plans to manage workload and maintain services. This will be a key challenge for essential services in the coming weeks.
  • A further current challenge is the availability of tests – the national supply chain is struggling to meet the increasing levels of demand caused by high infection rates. In November 2021, 35,329 LFT tests were distributed from Knowsley’s community testing facilities.  This rose to 94,331 in December 2021, and since 4 January 2022 more than 17,000 kits have already been issued.
  • The Council and partner agencies continue to experience issues with delayed stock and/or limited numbers of tests being provided. In view of the supply chain problems, all areas of the country have been asked by the Government to use their existing supplies to prioritise testing for frontline workers.
  • The Board agreed that this was a key concern, as the availability of testing is key both to enabling people to get back to work quickly so that essential services can continue to function and also ensuring that people do not unwittingly spread the virus.
  • In addition to the problems with LFT tests, delays in the processing of PCR tests are also presenting challenges – with some people having to wait up to 4 to 5 days for their results. This is having a particular impact for key workers (e.g. in the care sector) with staff being unable to return to work until they receive a negative PCR test result.
  • Knowsley Clinical Commissioning Group provided an update on the roll-out of the vaccination programme across the Borough and confirmed that 45% of the Knowsley eligible population had now received two vaccination doses and Booster vaccine.
  • Protection levels in the most vulnerable age groups (60+) are good but some concern remains about uptake within the younger cohorts – particularly the under 30s.
  • Uptake in Knowsley of vaccinations/boosters prior to Christmas was high but the rate of uptake has slowed considerably over the Christmas holiday period. This could be due to a number of factors, including the Bank Holidays, and high numbers of people with COVID-19 and therefore unable to receive the vaccine after testing positive (you can only receive your booster 28 days or more after a positive COVID-19 test).
  • Additional vaccination clinics to increase capacity have been arranged to run throughout January 2022 with a view to boosting uptake levels once more.
  • The Board was keen to explore all options in terms of the delivery of vaccines (e.g. considering locations beyond only healthcare settings, and at events etc.) in order to make it as easy and convenient as possible for people to be vaccinated.
  • An overview was provided regarding the current picture in Knowsley care homes – many of which have reported COVID-19 cases recently. Again, the feedback in general is that the Omicron strain of the virus results in much milder illness and is causing less serious outcomes.
  • The Public Health team outlined their continued support and work with the Borough’s schools in responding to changing guidance and the return of face-to-face teaching following the Christmas school holidays.
  • Knowsley residents continue to be reminded of the steps which can be taken to lessen the risk of transmission. These include the wearing of face coverings in some settings, ensuring that rooms are well ventilated, and regular hand washing and testing.

The Knowsley Outbreak Management Board is responsible for overseeing Knowsley’s Outbreak Management Plan – you can read it on Knowsley Council’s website.

The Board is chaired by the Leader of the Council, Councillor Graham Morgan, and membership includes the Council’s Adult Social Care Cabinet Member (Councillor Louise Harbour), Resources Cabinet Member (Councillor Jayne Aston), Health Cabinet Member (Councillor Christine Bannon), and Chief Executive (Mike Harden) alongside Knowsley’s Director of Public Health (Dr Sarah McNulty) and representatives from Merseyside Police (when required).