Mon, 06 Jul 2020
MEASURES to tackle coronavirus outbreaks in West Berkshire have been published by West Berkshire Council.
Local authorities have had to develop Local Outbreak Control Plans (LOCP) to prevent and control Covid-19 cases from spreading.
A summary of the West Berkshire plan has been published, as the full version cannot be released because it contains personal information.
Head of Public Health at West Berkshire Council Matt Pearce said: “Our role is linking with the national test and trace service.
“Where we will most likely be involved as a local authority will be supporting where there might be an outbreak, where there might be two or more cases that are linked to a particular place or setting, and that’s where we engage with Public Health England and communicate what that response might be.”
The plan focuses on eight themes – preventing and managing outbreaks in care homes and schools, high-risk places, locations and communities, local testing capacity, contact tracing, data integration, vulnerable people, local boards including communication and engagement and keeping the workforce safe.
Mr Pearce said the council had focused on areas where “there might be mass gatherings or vulnerable people might be within them to ensure we have plans in place for all those settings and who to contact if they have an individual with symptoms.”
The plan states that some people appear more likely to catch Covid-19 and will need extra protection, including older people, people with long-term conditions and Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) individuals.
It identifies six very high-risk workplaces and 32 high-risk community and leisure settings within the district, 20,631 adults who have one or more long-term conditions and 7,968 (5.5 per cent) as BAME.
Mr Pearce said the council was looking at how to engage with vulnerable groups and the need for targeted communication with BAME communities.
Speaking about the stable number of confirmed cases in the district, Mr Pearce said: “We are still waiting nationally to get permission to share more data on test and trace – it’s restricted at this moment in time.”
He said the test and trace facility at Newbury Showground has been booked for an initial six months.
Mr Pearce said the numbers had gone down at the site, but “people go to that testing site from beyond West Berkshire, so you can’t really read much into that”.
He added that the council was planning a public dashboard, allowing people to view data relating to the Covid-19 incidents and the number of tests carried out.
The council said it was likely that coronavirus would be harder to spot and control in the winter and it needed to be prepared. It also mentions the possibility of a second wave.
It said it will monitor data on cases and risks closely to spot outbreaks early and act swiftly to put local actions in place to control the spread.
Measures could include focused testing, cancelling events, closing playgrounds, other outdoor areas and other premises, and bringing in special testing facilities.
Council leader Lynne Doherty (Con, Speen) said: “We want to thank our residents and businesses across West Berkshire for their continued efforts to ensure they stay safe and play their part in keeping Covid-19 infection rates minimal across the district.
“As a local authority, we have been working internally with our department leads and externally with our partners to publish our Local Outbreak Plan as a matter of urgency, as we may see towns and cities go into local lockdown as national restrictions are eased over the coming weeks.
“This could vary from an individual business or local school, up to a full district lockdown, as has been seen in Leicester.
“Residents and businesses will need to know quickly if a similar situation were to happen here, and that’s why our Outbreak Control Plan focuses on key themes and an outbreak management process detailing what we will do, and how we would communicate key messages out to the public.”
Further information can be found at https://info.westberks.gov.uk/coronavirus-locp.
If you are self-isolating and need help, contact the Community Support Hub on (01635) 503579 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
If you think someone has Covid-19 in your workplace, school or other setting call (01635) 503242 (9am to 5pm Monday to Friday) or email CV19notifications@westberks.gov.uk
If you have Covid-19 symptoms, stay at home and contact NHS www.111.nhs.uk or ring 111.