COVID-19 RECOVERY: WCBC BRIEFING NOTE, 17TH SEPTEMBER 2021
The Delta Variant and its current spread in the Wrexham area remains of concern as highlighted in figures within this note. Cases in Wrexham and positivity rates remain in the lower half of national rates. Spread remains predominantly within the younger unvaccinated groups, and at present admissions to hospital and serious illness remains relatively low.
Staff and member recovery preparations have been occurring over recent weeks to support a gradual return to office during the autumn period. Office returns with a 1/3rd maximum in offices and operation of modern ways of working started from Monday the 6th of September, 2021
The key to sustained management and reduction in the number of cases of the delta and for that matter all other variants is the vaccination programme. This message is reflected strongly in our external messaging.
The First Minister has today announced that the Level 0 Alert will remain in place throughout Wales and that:
vaccination is the main way out of this current wave of infection (including for 12 to 15 year olds and a booster programme for the over 50 year olds, starting almost immediately)
- people should continue to work from home where possible
- people should observe social distancing rules (such as wearing face coverings inside buildings)
- Covid [vaccination] Passes will be compulsory from mid October for entrance to nightclubs, indoor events of over 500 people, outdoor seated events of over 4,000 people and any outdoor event, like a rugby match, of over 10,000 people
The Welsh Government issued updated operational guidance to schools on the 20th August. All schools will follow this guidance and will revise risk assessments accordingly. The focus of the guidance is to enable schools to operate as ‘business as usual’ as far as possible. Schools and settings will return to their normal session times.
The core measures that remain in place are:
- Follow self-isolation guidance
- Don’t attend school if you have symptoms
- Hand and respiratory hygiene
In addition, school staff and secondary age learners should be encouraged to undertake Lateral Flow Tests just before the return to school.
There will no longer be a requirement for the routine wearing of face coverings in the classroom for staff or learners. However, schools and settings may however wish to encourage their use in areas where there is likely to be more social mixing, such as in communal areas. Face coverings should continue to be worn by learners in secondary schools and settings when travelling on dedicated school transport.
Schools/settings will be expected to follow the specific advice they receive from TTP about whether individuals need to self-isolate.
DATA ON THE VIRUS
TABLE 1: Covid-19 in the County Borough as a whole compared to other Councils in North Wales
- 55 new cases were reported today and this week saw the largest number of new cases during ‘Wave 3’ of the virus.
- The latest 7-day rate for new cases is 1/100,000 population. This is slightly better than the 396/100k reported on Monday which was the highest ‘Wave 3’, but worse than the 330 reported two weeks ago and 301 reported four weeks ago.
- Positivity (the indicator of community transmission) is 1%, down from 18.8% two weeks ago and 17.3% four weeks ago, but still relatively high.
- These data show that the reductions from what had been thought to be the peak of Wave 3 in mid-July have been reversed as national Covid restrictions have reduced and that the virus has not gone away. However, Wave 3 has not been as severe as Wave 2 which peaked in January.
- Wrexham is 17th in Wales for cases per 100k population, compared to 15th two weeks ago. It is 9th for positivity, compared to 12th two weeks ago – a mixed result as rates of infection have grown much more quickly elsewhere in Wales.
- The Delta variant accounts for 100% of cases, with community transmission through household, social and work contacts being the driver of infection.
- The highest rates of infection are amongst the 20-29 age group, followed by the under 20s. This is because they are the least vaccinated and are having the most social contact.
- Hospital admissions and deaths remain low (compared to Waves 1 and 2) – supporting the view that the vaccine is highly effective against the Delta variant – but are rising.
- There is considerable uncertainty about whether cases will continue to rise, what with schools and colleges reopening, the efficacy of the vaccine possibly waning and people ‘voting with their feet’ and no longer observing the restrictions that remain in pace (such as face coverings inside buildings).
- The First Minister today announced that the Level 0 Alert will remain in force in Wales and that:
- vaccination is the main way out of this current wave of infection (including for 12 to 15 year olds and a booster programme for the over 50 year olds, starting almost immediately)
- people should continue to work from home where possible
- people should observe social distancing rules (e.g. wearing face coverings inside buildings)
- Covid [vaccination] Passes will be compulsory from 11th October for entrance to nightclubs, indoor events of over 500 people, outdoor seated events of over 4,000 people and any outdoor event, like a rugby match, of over 10,000 people
TABLE 2: Covid-19 in the Sub-Areas of Wrexham (18 MSOA areas used by PHW in its Tableau)
- All of the 18 sub-areas of Wrexham remain ‘hotspots’ with more than 100 cases/100,000 population, which has been the case for several months. This confirms that there is widespread community transmission throughout the County Borough rather than clusters of cases in specific areas.
- 7 of the sub-areas have more than 400/100k, whereas 5 had two weeks ago.
- 5 of the sub-areas have seen an improvement since two weeks ago, meaning that 13 have got worse. This compares to 8 and 10, respectively, two weeks ago, showing a worsening situation.
As with all challenges during the period of the Pandemic we continue to progress recovery with caution. Whilst there remains a wave of infections at present the resumption of schools, gradual opening of offices and resumption of face to face provision where possible continues to progress.