Three Luton schools have large numbers of Covid cases, as testing 'fatigue' is also highlighted

Low vaccination rates, but take-up rate by care home staff is encouraging

Tuesday, 19th October 2021, 1:04 pm

A Luton GP has warned of a "fatigue" around Covid symptoms and testing.

Director of clinical transformation with the BLMK Clinical Commissioning Group Dr Nina Pearson suggested "revitalising and changing the messaging".

During a Covid update in the town to the borough council's health and wellbeing board on Monday (October 18), she said: "What we're seeing in the health sector locally and nationally is misuse of lateral flow tests in symptomatic people, so not using a PCR (test).

More testing needs to take place in Luton (Getty)

"There's a fatigue around symptoms and testing. Members of the public are convinced they've not got Covid and therefore don't test with anything.

"We need to land the messages again. It feels like the public think it's gone away and yet it clearly hasn't. We can all see that."

READ THIS: Generous Luton Town fans are digging deep to help the family of a young supporter who was killed on Sunday morningPresenting the report, interim director of public health Sally Cartwright agreed about the fatigue factor and told the board: "Our rates as of today (Mon 18th) are 393 cases per 100,000.

"The rates have been relatively flat in recent weeks, with a slow increase," she explained.

"But we're currently below the England and east of England averages, both of which are rising.

"Our highest case rates now, which has been the case for a number of weeks, are among the ten- to 14-year-olds.

"So we've been seeing an increase in school settings. And our 60+ numbers have doubled in the last week, but from a relatively low base line for that age group.

"We've three schools which have particularly large numbers of cases currently and we're working with them to introduce extra control measures to manage the outbreaks.

"We continue to have low vaccination take-up rates compared to the national figures," she warned.

"We're doing a lot of work with CCG partners to increase that, and ensure the offer is clear and communicated to the community.

"There's a lot of work recently around strengthening the pharmacy offer and ensuring they're accessible and that people know they can go there for vaccination."

Asked about cases in care homes, she described the situation as "relatively stable, although there are still some cases", adding: "There's one where there'll be an outbreak management group meeting just to review and check through any extra actions which need to be in place.

"Otherwise there's a background level in the number of cases. We're having weekly meetings again to check the information is going to care homes in a timely fashion.

"We were seeing that increase appearing again, when I reported to the last meeting, but it's remained relatively flat since then."

Labour Saints councillor Javed Hussain enquired about care staff vaccination becoming mandatory and the possible impact.

Ms Cartwright replied: "We've seen quite large increases in the vaccination rates of care home staff.

"The rates now are well in the 90s (per cent) in terms of overall uptake, which is great news. There's a piece of work happening to review the stability around care home staffing.

"If staff are planning to leave the care sector because of not wanting to have their jab or being unable to be vaccinated we're reviewing what the impact might be on the market.

"Regarding finance for the care sector, another three months of the infection control fund has been announced at the last minute.

"It's good news and there's been a lot of work to manage that again. There'll be a review around what that means for next year when that funding runs out."