No recorded COVID-19 deaths in Royal Borough in over a month, panel told

Shay Bottomley

The Royal Borough has not recorded a COVID-19 death in over a month, councillors were told on Monday.

At an outbreak engagement board meeting, the panel received the latest figures as cases of the Delta variant continue to rise.

The rate of infection was 48.2 per 100,000 people within the Royal Borough from June 9-15, equating to 73 cases, and a 135 per cent increase on the previous week.

Crucially, just three of those cases were people over the age of 60, with nobody over 65 currently infected with the virus.

Anna Richards, consultant in public health for Windsor and Maidenhead, said: “We’ve not had any [COVID-19] deaths from residents in RBWM since the week ending May 21.

“Our death rate per 100,000 is in line with what we’d expect for this time of year.”

Much of this was due to the success of the vaccination programme, with 81 per cent of residents over 50 having received both doses of the vaccine.

Cases were higher in the younger cohorts, particularly people aged 15-30 who have had less time to receive their vaccinations.

Cllr David Hilton (Con, Ascot & Sunninghill) asked how many people who had caught COVID had been vaccinated.

In response, Ms Richards said: “We don’t any data on whether the cases have been vaccinated or not.

“Under-18s won’t have been vaccinated, and one could say that the younger the adult, the less likely they are to be vaccinated as the opportunity to be vaccinated hasn’t been open for as long as it has for older adults.”

The meeting also heard an update on schools from Kevin McDaniel, director of children's services, who said there was ‘nothing significant to add’ on cases in schools with no infections in children under the age of 15.

However, he said that the transition arrangements for children moving to secondary school could no longer take place as planned.

“In light of the decision to not take step 4 [of the government’s roadmap out of lockdown], the national guidance from the Department for Education (DFE) and Public Health England is for schools to maintain their bubble arrangements where possible,” said Mr McDaniel.

“[This includes] a reduction in the proposed transition days that were due in the end of June and early July for those changing schools.

“Schools have started communicating with families this morning that they can’t do those en masse.

“It would be unconscionable to take year six pupils, for example, from primary schools, mix them together for a day at secondary schools, and then send them back to their primary schools.

“Schools are looking to do similar transition work to the way they did it last year, where they can, but they will be focusing on children with additional needs to make sure they get the best transition.”

He said that the change to arrangements was ‘not ideal’ and noted how schools were ‘very keen’ to have full transitions this Summer.

“Under the advice we’ve been given, particularly given our neighbouring authorities’ position, we have asked our schools to make those changes to plans.”

Cllr Simon Werner (Lib Dem, Pinkneys Green) raised the issue of face-coverings in communal areas, which are recommended but no longer required.

In response, Mr McDaniel said: “We regularly encourage our secondary schools to follow guidance from the DFE, which does recommend that pupils continue to wear face masks in communal spaces but not in classrooms - some of them are enforcing it, some aren’t.

“I think the particular issue with some of the older-age youngsters is that they’re not actually in school very much now, particularly those who have finished their assessments and are out of school.”

“When they’re out and about in public, I can see that they’re not wearing their masks as much, although many still are – I’ve noticed in the town that there’s quite a lot of mask-wearing across all ages still going on, which I think is prudent,” he added.

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