Agenda item

COVID 19 Update


Dr Ruth Harrell, Director of Public Health provided an update for members and went through the following key points:


Omicron was a new variant which is highly infectious even more so than the Delta variant. The speed of the spread had been very high and this had been seen in London. There had been many things that were unknown about the new variant, however it was seen as being similar to the Delta variant.


Plymouth had many cases of the Delta variant and this wave had been reducing due in part to many having already been infected and on top of vaccination the infection had nowhere to go. Restrictions in place and people trying to minimise risk to themselves and to others had also contributed to the reduction in Delta cases. Plymouth’s rates had been 743 people per 100,000 in a week.


The reduction meant that Plymouth’s rates was now below the England average; England rates had been 840 people per 100,000 in a week. It was noted that the large increase had been driven by Omicron.


Although the decline in infection was positive, the number of cases in the city that were Omicron were increasing with data suggesting a 40% increase. Dr Ruth Harrell advised members that due to the increase the rates could rise again.   


An unknown of the variant is how many people would be admitted to hospital with the new variant and what the impact would be. Derriford Hospital had over 60 patients in hospital with COVID-19; there had been a high in January 2021 of 120. This meant that the healthcare system had been under huge pressure which meant operations were cancelled and people requiring surgery had not been completed.


The Governments ‘Plan B’ had been brought in to keep cases and hospitalisations down; people were required to wear face covering in indoor settings, work from home where possible and the need to prove either vaccination status or negative lateral flow tests to attend some venues.


Plymouth residents had been coming forward for vaccination and the capacity to deliver vaccines had increased, these two factors enabled two times as many people to be vaccinated compared to the previous high. Uptake in Plymouth had been very good and was in line with England levels by age group. 


Many people had been accessing boosters too with the take up in the high 80’s for older adults. Many people had been booked in for their boosters and other had been making use of the walk-in clinics. The location and times of appointments had been on the national NHS website as well as Plymouth City Council’s website.  


Vaccination helped to reduce transmission and helped to reduce severe disease, the protection had increased once people had the booster. 


An Ipsos MORI poll reported that many people were going over and above any restrictions in place as they wanted to keep themselves and their colleagues, friends and loved ones safe. 


Dr Ruth Harrell requested people to:-


Limit social contact to those who really matter to them

Take a lateral flow test prior to visiting other people and make sure there was no faint line on the test

to follow guidance if contact had been made with someone that had tested positive for COVID-19. Whilst there had been no need to isolate, caution had been advised by Dr Harrell as people could test positive at any point

Seek a PCR test if they had been feeling unwell

Limit indoor contact


Plymouth had the lowest death rate due to COVID based on medical certification of all upper tier local authorities in the UK; 114 deaths per 100,000 population.


Members discussed the following:


Councillors thanked Ruth Harrell and the staff deployed in their efforts to help roll out the booster and vaccination programme.


There had been discussions with Devon CCG to open further venues for the programme, however at this time no further venues would be used. Home Park and other venues being used were operating at higher capacity to accommodate the high demand. It was acknowledged that the programme doesn’t fit everyone’s needs but that the department had been working to ensure that the sites are accessible to many people.  


The Home park facility had a late clinic, more had been planned for the future. The booster programmes social media had been effective in providing updates, Councillors and members of the public were advised to follow this with regards to up to date news on the booster programme. 


Uptake of the programme in Plymouth had been good; the uptake had been lower towards the lower age groups which had been due to those groups not having the opportunity to be vaccinated; Lower age groups had also been affected due to contracting the virus which meant the vaccination could not be administered for a period of 28 days for adults and 12 weeks for children. There had been a small minority of people in Plymouth who had chosen not to have the vaccination. Data continued to evidence the safety efficiency of the programme and continued community conversations with COVID champions had been on-going to encourage those not already vaccinated to get the vaccine. Numbers of people having their first vaccination continued at 80 people per day.