Local UK authorities will work alongside the NHS and stakeholders to develop tailored outbreak control plans in a bid to contain COVID-19 infections.
Local authorities will be vital in supporting the new test and trace service across England, and they will be working closely with the NHS and other stakeholders on tailored infection control plans in order to contain local COVID-19 infections, focussing on identifying and containing potential outbreaks in places such as workplaces, housing complexes, care homes and schools.
The UK Government will be providing a ringfenced COVID-19 funding package of £300m to support the efforts.
Containing COVID-19 at a community level
Local authorities will play a role in ensuring that testing capacity is deployed effectively in high-risk locations, and data on the spread of the virus will be shared with local authorities through the Joint Biosecurity Centre. This will inform local outbreak planning, so teams understand how the virus is moving.
Local communities, organisations and individuals will also be encouraged to follow government guidance and assist those self-isolating in their area who need help. This will include encouraging neighbours to offer support, and identifying and working with relevant community groups.
Minister for Patient Safety, Suicide Prevention and Mental Health, Nadine Dorries, said: “Local authorities will be vital in the effort to contain COVID-19 at a community level. The pandemic requires a national effort but that will only be effective as a result of local authorities, working hand in hand with Public Health England and contact tracers to focus on the containment of local outbreaks, in order to control the transmission and the spread of the virus.
“For contact tracing to be effective when it is rolled out, we will need people to continue to follow guidelines and stay at home if they have symptoms.”
Tracing the virus across the UK
A new National Local Government Advisory Board will be established to work with the test and trace service, which will include sharing best practice between communities across the country. The local authorities, led by local authority leaders and local directors of public health in charge of planning, will be operating in close partnership with local hospitals, GP practices, businesses, religious groups, schools, and charities, building on their work to date to respond to COVID-19 locally.
National Test and Trace Adviser and Chief Executive of Leeds City Council, Tom Riordan, said: “It is essential that communities and local authorities are at the heart of our plans to roll out test and trace. Their work to respond to the virus has been exemplary, demonstrating how people across the country have come together to respond to the virus.
“As we move forward with our plans to trace every case of the virus, and contact those at risk, we will need to continue to work together and tailor support at a local level. This joint endeavour between local government, the NHS and local partners will help those in self-isolation, and reduce the risk of widespread outbreaks in our schools, businesses, hospitals and communities.”
Work to share ‘lessons learned’ will be led by a group of 11 local authorities from the breadth of the UK, representing rural and urban areas, who have volunteered to help localise planning.