Coronavirus (COVID 19): Advisory Sub-Group on Public Health Threat Assessment minutes: 22 July 2020

Minutes from the meeting of the Advisory Sub-Group on Public Health Threat Assessment, held on 22 July 2020.

Items and actions

1. Welcome and Apologies

The chair welcomed members to the second meeting of the group and invited the following new members to introduce themselves:

Claire Cameron, Alastair Leckie, Jacqui Reilly, Joy Tomlinson

Apologies ­: Tom Evans, Linda de Caestecker, Heather Campbell, Rory MacKenzie, Christine McLaughlin, Jacqui Semple

2. Minutes of the previous meeting 

The minutes of the previous meeting were agreed.         

The chair highlighted that there should be the same pattern of prioritisation for flu immunisation across the UK.

3. Point of Care (POC) Testing

The group noted that General Practice is working because possible COVID cases are being separated out and being seen at special hubs. There is a need to avoid people with a cough and temperature heading to General Practice.

The group highlighted that logistics related to establishing if a person has flu or Covid-19 would be a central focus of the group’s final advice.

The group was given a presentation by the Scottish Government’s COVID Testing and Contact Tracing Policy Division. The group noted the different processes currently used for POC testing in Scotland.

The group discussed the possibility of saliva testing in the future.

The group noted the importance of understanding false-negatives and false-positives when testing different groups and suggested that some predictive analysis around this issue would help understand where POC testing was most effective.

The group spoke about isolation capacity and noted that it is important that capacity in hospitals should not be affected by false-positive cases taking up isolation rooms.

It was noted that when testing people with flu symptoms, the specificity of flu POC testing was hugely accurate.    

The group highlighted that communication would play a key part in ensuring healthcare workers have confidence in the POC methods that would be used and that members of the public also need to have confidence in POC tests.

The group highlighted that it is important that members of the public know which service to access dependent on their individual symptoms. Clear pathways to care for members of the public should be decided and communicated.

The group considered the different POC scenarios in which people should be tested for both flu and Covid-19.

The group agreed that it was important to identify when the ‘flu season’ starts.

The group discussed how data from flu POC testing could be used to encourage individuals to get flu vaccinations that they are entitled to.  

The group agreed to contact the Scottish Microbiology and Virology Network for its view on POC testing.  

The group emphasised the need for appropriate capacity and agreed to liaise with Health Boards to understand individual POC Testing needs.

4. AOB and date of next meeting

The next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday 29 July.

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