02:11PM, Wednesday 10 February 2021
Plans are in place for surge testing to be introduced in Slough if any cases of the South African coronavirus variant are detected.
Door-to-door testing has been taking place in a number of communities, including nearby Egham, following identification of the coronavirus mutation.
A meeting of Slough Borough Council’s outbreak engagement board last night discussed how the council is planning for the possibility of the variant being detected in the town.
Public health representative Sue Foley said: “If we do get a case that is not travel related in Slough then we are prepared if we have to do surge testing.”
“At the moment we don’t have any of the South African variant but we need to prepare because our population does move and mingle with other areas.”
Ms Foley told councillors the coronavirus situation in the borough is improving.
The infection rate currently stands at 346.4 cases per 100,000 with numbers in the over 60s age group also falling to 391 per 100,000.
The meeting heard how 7,475 people have taken lateral flow tests at the borough’s community coronavirus rapid testing sites with 1.7 per cent of people testing positive.
It is hoped Slough residents will be able to keep accessing these sites until the end of March.
Dr Lalitha Iyer, executive director of the Frimley Collaborative, also updated councillors on the progress of the COVID-19 vaccination programme.
The partnership of clinical commissioning groups has delivered more than 100,000 doses of the vaccine to communities across East Berkshire, Surrey Heath, North Hampshire and Farnham.
But she warned Slough is still seeing ‘vaccine hesitancy’ within the black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) community.
Dr Iyer said: “We know COVID has a disproportionate impact on our BAME population and this has been proved beyond doubt and we all remember the faces we saw on national television of NHS staff and the population who we lost in the first surge.
“Given the fact more than half of Slough’s population belongs to this ethnicity it would be really good if we can have the highest rate of vaccination.
“What we are really finding nationally and in Slough is there is vaccine hesitancy from exactly the communities who are disproportionately impacted.”
She said people need to be aware coronavirus vaccines have no impact on fertility, do not contain genetically-modified organisms, trackers or meat derivatives.
Councillor Rob Anderson (Lab, Britwell and North Borough) added: “Until we’re all protected by the vaccine none of us are protected.”
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