COVID-19 Adaptations Expert Advisory Group minutes: 5 October 2022

Minutes from the meeting of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Adaptations Expert Advisory Group on 5 October 2022.


Attendees and apologies

Chair

  • Professor Tim Sharpe, University of Strathclyde

Attendees

  • Victoria Sanderson, Health and Safety Executive
  • Dr Maria Rossi, Public Health Scotland
  • Professor Diane Dixon, University of Aberdeen
  • Christoph Ackermann, BDP
  • Professor Gill Hubbard, University of the Highlands and Islands
  • Professor Vittal Katikireddi, University of Glasgow
  • Professor Stephen Reicher, St Andrew’s University
  • Dr Chris Iddon, The Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers
  • Alan Johnston, BE-ST
  • Neil Granger, Scottish Property Federation
  • Patricia Anderson, Health and Safety Executive 
  • Dr Alice Street, University of Edinburgh
  • Stephen Long, Scottish Futures Trust
  • Fiona Richardson, COSLA

Scottish Government attendees

  • Marion McCormack, Deputy Director, Covid Ready Society
  • Judith Ainsley, Head of Adaptations Unit, Covid Ready Society
  • Professor Linda Bauld, Chief Social Policy Advisor
  • Ian Gilzean, Chief Architect
  • Morag Angus, Chief Surveyor
  • Katherine McIsaac, Joint Head of Strategy & Insight, Directorate For Communications And Ministerial Support
  • Natalie Neilson, Head of Healthier & Covid Marketing, Directorate For Communications And Ministerial Support
  • Thomas Lennon, Construction Professional and Technical Author, Building Standards
  • Safer Workplaces Policy Official, Directorate For Economic Development
  • Covid Ready Society Policy Officials

Apologies

  • Professor Cath Noakes, University of Leeds
  • Dr Carole McRae, Public Health Scotland
  • Dr Stephen Garvin, Deputy Director, Building Standards (Scottish Government)

Secretariat

  • Covid Ready Society Policy Official

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

The Chair welcomed members to the second meeting of the COVID Adaptations Expert Advisory Group. The Chair invited introductions from a new member. 

Agree minute, terms of reference, work plan and Conflict of Interest procedure

Comments from the group on the terms of reference (ToR) were incorporated and have now been finalised. The ToR will be published on the group webpage within gov.scot website.

Minutes from meeting one were agreed and will also be published on the group webpage.

A Scottish Government (SG) official outlined the group’s Conflict of Interest process.

State of the pandemic

Public Health Scotland (PHS) provided an update on the current state of the pandemic; PHS continue to monitor cases via testing numbers, ONS data, deaths and ICU numbers. ONS Infection Survey data indicate a decrease in the estimated average proportion of the household resident Scottish population testing positive for COVID-19. 

Group members asked if data around Long COVID would be useful as an indicator. PHS agreed to look into getting data on Long COVID, whilst highlighting this is challenging.

Group discussed the recent rise of cases in England and Wales and asked if Scotland would see similar. PHS stated Scotland saw a similar increase after schools returned, akin to the increase in England and Wales.

An SG official provided an update on SG state of pandemic and highlighted that since the previous meeting of the group, Scotland has moved from a medium to low threat level.

Latest relevent research and publications

An SG official invited members to highlight new pieces of research or studies. Members commented that these should be specifically relevant to the remit of the group and of benefit to share Scotland specific studies and wider public health, not strictly COVID specific.

Enduring Transmission

An SG official provided an introduction to Enduring Transmission (ET) and asked group members to reflect upon the risk factors and limitations highlighted and invite members to consider what can be done to mitigate the known risk associated with ET, as part of the wider adaptations programme of work.

The group discussed other possible indicators and factors such as vaccine uptake rates, mobility (structural inequality), and cost of living. The group also highlighted the risk of certain groups being blamed and stigmatised and urged caution around this.

Winter Marketing Campaign - approach and plans

SG officials provided an overview of the Winter communication strategy and public insight from recent polling.

The group discussed balancing the messaging with the cost of living crisis and raised whether there could be more messaging directed at employers and businesses rather than just individual behaviours.

COVID Sense Signage Pilot - update on evaluation and early insights for consideration of next steps

An SG Official provided an overview of the pilot and early evaluation insights,  including proposals on the future of the pilot.

The group discussed the proposals and gave initial thoughts on how to increase the impact of the scheme. Members raised concern that signage  may not go far enough to encourage business to make changes. The group were invited to send further comments to covidadaptations@gov.scot.  

AOB, next meeting and close

The Chair thanked members for their time and valuable contributions, and noted the next meeting is scheduled to be held in early November.

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