C&M DsPH weekly update w/e 14 May 2021

The Cheshire & Merseyside (C&M) Directors of Public Health (DsPH) currently meet for weekly calls. The key messages from the 14th May meeting are as follows:

  1. Update on Variant of Concern (VOC) – DsPH discussed managing the recent VOC (b.1.617, first identified in India). The measures for infection prevention and control that Sefton are taking appear to be working and the daily cases are going down and are lower than other areas in the North West. Surge testing began in Formby on Friday which will be supplemented with pop up testing where required.
  2. PHE update – Sam Ghebrehewet talked through an epidemiology summary to show VOC cases in the North West (423 as at 13 May) and discussed issues such as testing and contact tracing. A response framework was discussed which Sam will raise with PHE North West. Rita Huyton gave an update on the work the contact tracing system (including the C&M hub) is doing with VOCs including enhanced contact tracing and advice on self-isolation. DsPH thanked Sam for his expert advice and guidance and also Rita and the hub team for their hard work and support.
  3. Health protection model update – Julie Webster and Thara Raj updated DsPH following the health protection planning session held last Friday. DsPH agreed to commission some external capacity to help drive this work forward along with the Outbreak Identification and Rapid Response group.
  4. Guidance for events – The DsPH are interested in developing consistent guidance about running events safely. This will be discussed at the next meeting on Friday 21 May.
  5. Good news and gratitude – The DsPH shared several items including:
  • The DsPH expressed their thanks to Tracey Lambert and Ryan McKernan for the work they have done on issuing joint communications to remind people to be cautious as restrictions are eased on Monday.
  • The ‘dual running’ pilot taking place in Crewe has evaluated well with the Department of Health highlighting the ‘swab squad’ as an example of good practice.
  • The exceptional work done by Eileen O’Meara was commended in helping to complete the ICS submission around health inequalities which contributed to the strong system submission.
  • The work undertaken by Halton around asylum seekers has been recognised nationally as best practice.