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How will ‘test, track and trace’ work in Norfolk?

PUBLISHED: 08:26 20 May 2020 | UPDATED: 08:42 20 May 2020

The drive-through coronavirus testing facility at the Norwich Research Park. Picture: Denise Bradley

The drive-through coronavirus testing facility at the Norwich Research Park. Picture: Denise Bradley

Archant

Norfolk health bosses are preparing for the launch of a “test, track and trace” system which they hope will keep coronavirus outbreaks at bay as the lockdown eases.

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

The government system - based on successful models from other countries - aims to alert people through a mobile phone app if they have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus.

They could then be asked to get tested themselves or isolate.

It is currently being trialled in the Isle of Wight and the health secretary, Matt Hancock, said on Monday it would be rolled out to the rest of the country “within weeks”.

Scientists think around 60pc of the population will need to download the phone app for the system to work.

Norfolk’s director of public health, Dr Louise Smith, said developing the local response to future outbreaks was now a priority. “There is plenty of work to do,” she added.

She said the app was one part of the system and there will be other ways for people to access tests and report symptoms such as over the phone.

Norfolk has testing centres at its three main hospitals and people can also order home testing kits.

Dr Smith said people who test positive will be asked to visit a website, where they will be asked questions such as who they have been in contact with and places they have visited.

“That system would then generate advice and tests would be sent out to people they have been in contact with,” she said.

“If you are informed you have been in contact with someone you will be posted a home test.”

Nationally, 18,000 ‘contact tracers’ are also being recruited to help track where that person has been and find people they have been near.

Dr Smith added: “We think there will be some people who struggle to work it through so anybody who cannot do it would be posted to us locally.

“We think we will also have to help people who have to self-isolate and don’t have friends or families to support them.”

Public Health in Norfolk would also be called upon to help trace potentially infected people if there were outbreaks in places with lots of people such as factories, hostels or campsites.

“That is where on the ground knowledge will become really useful,” Dr Smith said.


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