A new approach to local test and trace has started in Southend this week, as part of changes agreed nationally. It is hoped that the changes will help more contacts to be traced and prevent the spread of coronavirus.
The Essex and Southend Contact Tracing Service (ESCTS) had previously only been responsible for dealing with cases in complex settings such as schools, businesses and care homes, but will now take on local contact tracing of positive Coronavirus cases after 32 hours in the national test and trace system.
Since the weekend, local residents who have tested positive for COVID-19, but couldn’t be reached by the national contact tracers, will have received a combination of calls, a text message, an email and a letter from Provide which runs the service. This communication reminds them of the need to self-isolate and to identify who they have may have been in contact with.
ESCTS will have 48 hours to attempt to make contact, after which point details of those that cannot be reached will passed onto a local face to face team being managed by Southend Council, who will door knock locally.
Councillor Trevor Harp, cabinet member for adult social care and health, says: “Although it has taken longer than we had hoped to receive access to the national database and get this up and running locally, I am very pleased to be getting these new arrangements in place now.
“The face to face team is made of current council employees who will be on standby to do this work and go out into the community and door knock where necessary to remind them of the need to self-isolate and identify contacts. This team will start receiving referrals this week.
“An effective test and trace system is vital as we seek to control the spread of coronavirus, and so we are pleased to be taking this action and putting this in place which will help to protect local communities.”
The face to face team will be supported by the council’s regulatory service team who will deal with any referrals regarding complex settings and have experience of dealing with contact tracing.
People who have tested positive for CVID-19 must complete a 10-day isolation period.
If you do not have symptoms but have tested positive for coronavirus, stay at home and self-isolate for 10 days from the day the test was taken. If you develop symptoms after your test, restart your 10-day isolation period from the day the symptoms start.
The Test and Trace Support Payment has been introduced to help people on a means-tested benefit and a low income, who are advised by NHS Test and Trace to self-isolate, but are unable to work from home and will lose income as a result. You may be eligible for a £500 payment.