Coronavirus Update

Coronavirus Update Image

Dundee City Council is working closely with partners across the city to deal with the ongoing impact of Coronavirus (Covid-19).

Officers are monitoring the local situation daily and following the advice given by government and NHS public health experts. The council continues to consider appropriate actions based on the national guidance. 

This week:

Council tax in Dundee has been frozen for the 2021/22 financial year, fixing the band D rate for the second year at £1,379.

Savings of £1.3million were made in order to set a revenue budget of £372.9million, the largest proportion of which (45%) is spent on children and families services, with the Dundee Health and Social Care Partnership allocated 21.6%, 7.7% going to neighbourhood services and 3.2% of the total to city development.

Willie Sawers, depute convener of the policy and resources committee and finance spokesman, said: “I am pleased and relieved to be in a position to be able to freeze the Council Tax this year in recognition of the exceptional challenges that have been faced by both public and household finances in the past 12 months.

“In the last 13 years the council tax in Dundee has only been put up four times and this freeze is a measured response to the significant economic impact of coronavirus, which is going to be with all of us for a long time.

“It means that we will be able to continue to deliver on the city’s priorities as well as develop and further enhance our services to build back better.”

Council tax provides around 18% of the council’s income. Almost three quarters (72%) of households in Dundee are in Bands A, B or C.

Also this week, NHS Tayside is making preparations to step up activity in its community vaccination centres for the next priority groups as the vaccination teams deliver almost 152,000 jabs.

Currently, those in priority group 6 on the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) prioritisation list are being invited for vaccination. This includes people aged 16-64 with underlying health conditions and adult unpaid carers. Detailed information on who is eligible in this group is available at www.nhsinform.scot/covid-19-vaccine

This is one of the largest and most complex groups on the priority list so it may take several weeks to complete invitations. The vaccination teams are making great progress with more than 33,000 people in this group already having had a vaccination, so please be patient. If you are eligible you will get an invitation.

More than 146,300 people have now had their first vaccination in Tayside, which is around 41% of the adult population in Tayside. This means that NHS Tayside remains one of the top performing boards in Scotland in terms of population vaccinated. So far, around 97% of people in Tayside who are over 70, 87% of those shielding and 89% aged 65-69 have had a vaccination.

NHS Tayside is also now delivering second doses to patient-facing health and social care workers, care home staff and residents, with more than 5,300 having had both doses of the vaccine.

The majority of vaccinations for priority group 6 are being delivered in Tayside by our GPs, with the remainder being done in the community vaccination centres along with the small number of those in the 65-69 age group and in earlier groups who have not yet had a vaccination.

The next stage of the programme will see those aged 60-64 invited for vaccination at the community vaccination centres. Invites for this group will begin later this month when vaccinations are expected to significantly increase following a temporary dip in vaccine supplies nationally.

To allow preparations for this next group, the community vaccination centres will be temporarily stepped down this weekend (6-7 March) before activity is ramped up again from next week. All subsequent priority groups will be invited for their vaccination at a community centre, as GPs finish priority group 6 then move into delivering second doses.

Meanwhile, with preparations now underway for the return of face-to-face teaching from Monday March 15, families of secondary pupils are being advised that classes will only be available on a limited basis before the Easter holiday.

Safety measures, including two metre physical distancing inside secondary schools for all staff and young people, will result in restrictions on the number of pupils who can return to school buildings at any one time.

Distancing does not apply in primaries, so the return of P4-7 classes will go ahead full-time from Monday March 15, if its judged safe to do so.

Secondary staff are now organising how young people can get back to their classes on a part-time basis until the Easter break starts (from the end of the school day on Thursday April 1).

Priority for classroom teaching time will be given to S4-6 pupils working towards national qualifications.

Staff resources needed to deliver the return under the national distancing restrictions will mean that live remote teaching will look very different for those remaining at home. Pupils will be advised of more online education resources to cover their learning in the meantime.

Secondary places will remain available for the children of key workers and vulnerable children.

However, with the organisational challenges surrounding the return of more pupils, it is essential that key workers requiring support ensure that requests for all places are a last resort and only requested for days where no other option is available.

Pupils and staff will be expected to wear face coverings in secondary schools at all times, unless exemptions apply.

Lateral flow tests will continue to be offered to S4-6 pupils and school staff.

The city council has a coronavirus information page for schools on its website

Schools will be in direct contact with families about their own arrangements.

Elsewhere, multi-agency efforts to protect Dundee children during the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic and first lockdown are being praised in a new publication. 

Work to prevent children suffering from hidden harm, especially during the closure of schools from last spring, is highlighted in the annual report of the Dundee Child Protection Committee. 

The children and families services committee will be told that a wide range of activities have been undertaken during the COVID-19 pandemic to monitor the impact on vulnerable children, young people and families and to provide ongoing support and intervention where this was required.

All children and young people on the Child Protection Register received a minimum of fortnightly face-to-face support from the Children and Families Service.

The service also worked with partners to co-ordinate support through the eight Community Support Centres established during the first lockdown and other outreach routes.

In response to a reduction in the number of referrals being received through child concern processes from schools during closures, actions were taken to reduce the risks for children and young people and to identify and respond to hidden harm.     

The report covers April 2019 to July 2020.

Elaine Torrance, independent chair of the Dundee Child Protection Committee said “The latter part of this period was made more challenging by the sudden onset of the COVID19 pandemic in February. 

“Whilst all agencies individually responded with their own operational plans the Child Protection Committee met more regularly to ensure there was an effective multi -agency response to strategic and key identified risks.”

A delivery plan has been developed for the current year (2020/21) including arrangements to manage the ongoing challenges of COVID-19.

Councillor Stewart Hunter, children and families services convener, added: “These continue to be very challenging times and this report demonstrates the ongoing efforts to keep children safe from harm.

“Our teams have been extremely flexible in responding to these circumstances and have developed innovative ways to deliver services.”

The report will be considered by the Children and Families Committee on Monday March 8.

The full list of council services affected by Coronavirus is available on the council’s website.

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