The Board received an update on the current coronavirus (Covid-19) situation in the borough.
Harrow was currently in 18th position out of the 33 London boroughs for rate of Covid-19 (all ages) and 7th for over 60 age group. Interim case numbers were continuing to increase and on 22 March 2022, the number was 250 cases higher than the confirmed cases for 13 March 2022. Rates in the over 60s were now higher than in the other age groups.
In terms of hospitalisations, between 7 March 2022 and 13 March 2022, 73 went into hospital with Covid-19. This showed an increase of14.1% compared to the previous 7 days. There were 73 patients in hospital with coronavirus on 15 March 2022. There were 2 Covid-19 coronavirus patients in hospital beds with a mechanical ventilator on 15 March 2022.
The number of deaths between 15 March 2022 and 21 March 2022 were two, within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test.
The vaccination uptake showed a slight increase: 190,748 people had having had a first dose by the end of 16 March 2022, only 67 up on the previous week; 178,384 people had been given a second dose by the – an increase of 415 on the previous week; and 133,506 had been given a booster or third dose - 363 more than the previous week.
There were four scenarios envisaged for Covid-19 in the borough and nationally:
1) Reasonable Best Case
Short term: small resurgence in Autumn/winter 2022-2023 but low levels of severe disease.
Longer term: new variants occur but no major change in transmissibility or severity and little/no vaccine escape with annual boosters of current vaccine for vulnerable people. Covid years suppress flu infections.
2) Central Optimistic
Short term: seasonal wave of infections similar to the Omicron wave.
Longer term: increasing global prevalence - increases in waves due to waning immunity annual seasonal infections with good and bad years. Annual updated vaccines for vulnerable and for others in bad years. Voluntary protective behaviours with mandated NPIs in bad years.
3) Central Pessimistic
Short term: new variant emerges with high wave of infection. Severe disease in smaller unvaccinated, and vulnerable groups.
Longer term: high global incidence leads to unpredictable emergence of variants for many years and sometimes more than once per year. Widespread annual updated vaccines provide some level of protection. Widespread antiviral resistance. No reduction in flu widespread disruption and healthcare burden.
4) Reasonable Worse Case
Short term: large waves of infections with severe disease in broad range of population groups.
Long term: High global incidence, variable vaccination, animal reservoirs leading to repeated emergence of variants some with significant immune escape. Unpredictable impacts. Widespread annual vaccination with updated vaccines, anti-viral resistance widespread, voluntary protective behaviours largely absent and cause societal.
The following concerns were highlighted on the future impact of Covid-19:
1) impact on disease transmission and lack of monitoring information;
2) risk of development of new variant and ability to detect new variant;
3) impact on vulnerable people, impact on “clinically vulnerable” people who are worried about mixing with other people;
4) lack of funding for local authorities for further actions; and
5) impact on inequalities ability to isolate in disadvantaged communities who could not get statutory sick pay (SSP).
The Board queried on hospital procedures for Covid-19. It was advised that patients with respiratory problems were still being tested for Covid-19. However, those who did not test positive were not placed in isolation wards. As numbers were rising, it was expected that more wards would be re-configured to cater to Covid-19 patients.
The Board also asked if care home residents would continue to be tested for Covid-19, and vaccinated for the fourth dose. It was advised that testing and vaccinations in care homes would continue. Those eligible for the fourth dose had begun receiving it in the preceding week.
The Board thanked officers for the presentation.
RESOLVED: That the update be noted.