Council set to knock on doors as it takes charge of Norfolk test and trace

PUBLISHED: 07:51 12 August 2020 | UPDATED: 16:41 12 August 2020

Coronavirus blood test in hospital laboratory. NHS. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Coronavirus blood test in hospital laboratory. NHS. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto


Council officers could be set to knock on doors to tell people to self-isolate, after the government announced a major shift towards a local test and trace system to tackle coronavirus outbreaks.

Dr Louise Smith, Norfolk's director of public health. Picture: Norfolk County CouncilDr Louise Smith, Norfolk's director of public health. Picture: Norfolk County Council

Councils are to take on a bigger role in tracing Covid-19, after the government announced it would be cutting the national test and trace workforce by 6,000 roles.

The UK-wide NHS Test and Trace system will drop from 18,000 to 12,000 callers.

Instead, Public Health England (PHE) will provide dedicated teams to local authorities to track cases and alert their contacts, in a renewed bid to ramp up systems to halt the spread of the disease.

READ MORE: Norfolk’s latest coronavirus cases have ‘clear connections’ says public health chief

Councils could be knocking on the doors of people known to have had close contact - more than 15 minutes within two metres - with someone who has tested positive to tell them to self-isolate.

Norfolk county council director of public health, Dr Louise Smith, said: “We have been consistently working closely with our Public Health England colleagues throughout the pandemic.

“My team has already done some very good work with the data to allow us to understand our local cases and link them together and is very close to reaching our 80pc target for test and trace.”

READ MORE: 19 new coronavirus cases in Norfolk in last seven days

Dr Smith said details of the scheme would be finalised in the coming weeks, ahead of the government’s August 24 deadline to launch the localised service.

The news comes after Dr Smith last week warned that cases of coronavirus in the county had “clear connections” through “family and social contact”.

She urged Norfolk residents to follow government guidance and self-isolate if they, or anyone in their household, shows symptoms.

She added: “We welcome this announcement of a more integrated localised approach with NHS Test and Trace and Public Health England following successful trials in other areas and we look forward to extending our partnership to ensure as many people as possible in our communities are contact traced.

READ MORE: Four people at coastal nursery test positive for coronavirus

“It is extremely positive that we are getting more information about contact tracing and that we are also going to be offered more access, including patient-identifiable data, to the Public Health England database.

“The detail of how many people will be in our team and the processes around that are being worked out in the coming days.”

The Department for Health has been contacted for comment.

READ MORE: Eight Wetherspoon staff self-isolating after worker tests positive for coronavirus

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