Windsor and Maidenhead has highest rates of testing compared to neighbouring boroughs

Adrian Williams

Adrian Williams

In a meeting of the outbreak and engagement board on Monday, councillors heard that cases are ‘slightly increasing’ in the borough in line with the region.

The case rate in the borough is 280 people per 100,000 – slightly above the South East average but below the England average of 306 cases.

In the 60-plus age group, the case rate is 117 people per 100,000, which is increasing.

There have been 43 cases in the latest week of data (August 4-10), which is higher than the South East and England national average.

However Anna Richard, consultant for public health in the Royal Borough said these differences are small and in constant flux.

The Borough has the best testing rate of neighbouring authorities, with an average of 637 tests per 100,000 people, compared to 496 for Wokingham.

The borough also has the lowest number of positive results from testing, at around 6.4 per cent, compared to 8.6 for Reading.

The age groups with the highest rates of cases are 15-19 and 20-24. Daily admissions to hospitals remains low with a slight increase in recent weeks.

But there have been no recorded deaths from COVID-19 in the borough for some time, said Ms Richard – not since May.

The vaccination uptake for dose one for the 18-plus group is 82 per cent, higher than the England average of 79 per cent.

Around 69 per cent of 18-plus residents are vaccinated with dose one and two, about average for the South East.

First-dose vaccination rates for 18-plus in nearby local authorities tend to be in the low to mid 80s, with Reading and Slough trailing behind at 70 per cent and 69 per cent respectively.

Between July 30 and August 5, the worst affected wards in the borough, with more than 250 cases per 100,000 people, were Furze Platt, Pinkneys Green, Belmont, Boyn Hill, St Mary's, Hurley and Walthams, Bray and Eton and Castle.

As well as targeting 16 and 17-year-olds, the borough is looking to vaccinate children with learning disabilities and complex needs between aged 12-15, though these make up fewer than 200 youngsters overall.

Cllr Helen Price (The Borough First, Clewer & Dedworth East), asked about figures that suggested that other boroughs in Berkshire had a higher vaccine uptake among younger people.

“Are we missing a trick to try and get our younger people to take up vaccination?” she asked.

Executive managing director for the borough at Frimley Collaborative, Caroline Farrar, replied:

“The raw comparison rates don’t take into account the wider demography other than age, including ethnicity and deprivation, which we know effect uptake.

“The (data) that we have seen leads us to believe we’re about on track for our demographic make-up.”

The focus now is to ‘streamline the message’ and target sports clubs to engage young men, as well as pubs.

The ‘unlock summer’ campaign will include a ‘poster and coaster’ campaign, with messages on beer mats in 12 pubs in the borough, as well as posters in the Nicholsons Centre, libraries and sports clubs.

The borough is also working with community groups, mosques and the Hindu society. Further, the communications team is looking into vaccine hesitancy and possible causes.

So far, it has found that transport to vaccination sites and timings are an issue – young people want to travel in with friends, on a weekend so as not to disrupt work.

To protect the vulnerable moving into autumn and winter, the hope is to start boosters for the first four weeks of September – subject to Government guidance.

These boosters will not take place at GP surgeries, to protect them from being stretched over capacity, instead taking place at the current designated vaccination centres.

Dr Chris Orchard of NHS Frimley Health Foundation Trust spoke to the panel about the trust’s Long Covid Service, which began accepting referrals in February.

Overall it has had 461 referrals and has accepted 219 of these. It is a virtual rather than medical service at this stage, providing support by validating the struggles of those referred.

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