Agenda item

Covid- 19 Update




 The meeting welcomed Jim McManus, Director of Public Health at Hertfordshire County Council, to present an update on the latest figures relating to Covid-19 for the Dacorum borough. Key points were noted as follows:


-Following a surge in cases in July 2022, the number of cases in the Hertfordshire region had significantly declined. Case rates had peaked during the summer, particularly in young children and young people, as more people gathered socially during the summer months. The over-60s had also seen a surge in cases.

-Some new infections had been reported, together with a small percentage of people (10-12%) reportedly being reinfected having previously had the virus. The number of deaths and mechanical ventilation beds required had now decreased to single figures.

-In terms of vaccinations, 938,000 people had received their first dose and over half the population had received over three doses of the vaccine. Take-up had been strong amongst those who were eligible.

-Emergency attendances had increased, albeit this was attributed to respiratory viruses other than Covid. Whilst Covid remained prevalent, most symptoms were not resulting in hospital admissions.

-Overall, residual immunity was strong due to vaccinations and infections, with the majority of people having been exposed to the virus. Following the cessation of mandatory preventative measures, the general population was now being affected by other infections.


EGlatter enquired which age groups were entitled to have a flu vaccination. JMcManus confirmed that this was available for people aged 50 and over, anyone under 50 who was classed as eligible (e.g. Suffering from ailments such as asthma and diabetes), and to all primary school children via a nasal spray. The pneumococcal vaccine was also available to anyone over 65 to protect them against pneumonia and could be administered at pharmacies. Equally, anyone wishing to remain cautious could continue to protect themselves by wearing a facemask in crowded areas, sanitising their hands, and ensuring rooms were well ventilated.


Cllr Beauchamp requested copies of the graphs presented for the Committee. It was agreed that the graphs and links to the live websites would be circulated to members for information.


KMinier asked whether any further information was available as to who was more susceptible to long Covid, and what treatments were available for this. JMcManus confirmed that a detailed summary of long Covid was available on the British Heart Foundation website, but essentially this covered a number of different after-effects following a Covid infection, including brain fog, memory issues, headaches, muscle fatigue and heart pains. Treatments included a GP referral for an overall assessment, followed by prescribed physiotherapy, pain management, physical activity or in some cases a Covid vaccine. Patients may also be referred to heart and diabetes specialists.


Cllr Guest reported that she administered flu vaccines as part of her pharmacist work and queried why these were being given to some people aged between 50 to 64. JMcManus stated that there was a higher risk profile of cardiovascular issues amongst 50-64-year-olds, and UK JCVI had adopted a more protective stance in some cases for this age group to ultimately reduce the amount of NHS care required.


Cllr Guest also enquired as to the reported shortages of antibiotics for Strep A infections in community pharmacies. JMcManus stated that, whilst there had been no shortage of stockpiles, there had been some wider supply chain issues across the country, particularly relating to liquid penicillin for children. The largest shortages in Hertfordshire were currently in Watford. Cllr Maddern added that some manufacturers had significantly raised their prices from £1 to £12 a bottle, and national pharmaceutical bodies were unable to prevent this.


Cllr Bhinder asked whether immune systems were benefiting from increased social interaction following periods of isolation and lockdown. JMcManus stated that the immune system had some memory of previous infections, but cold and flu viruses were constantly mutating, and the immune system would react differently to new virus strains.


The Committee thanks JMcManus for attending and for his insightful presentation.


JMcManus left the meeting.


ACTION: JWebb to circulate the presentation graphs and links to the relevant websites for the latest Covid numbers.