Plans for coronavirus local lockdowns in Norfolk not ready until July

Louise Smith, director of public health in Norfolk. Picture: Ella Wilkinson

Louise Smith, director of public health in Norfolk. Picture: Ella Wilkinson - Credit: Archant

Norfolk’s plans over how to deal with local lockdowns if there a further outbreaks of coronavirus will not be ready until July at the earliest.

Coronavirus testing at Norwich Research Park. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Coronavirus testing at Norwich Research Park. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

While the government’s test and trace programme was launched this week, that is meant to go hand in hand with local systems to control outbreaks.

Norfolk has been named as one of 11 pilot areas which will play a key role in the government’s efforts to use testing and tracing to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The NHS will do the testing and the majority of individuals will be contacted by national contact tracers if they need to self-isolate and get tested, having come into contact with somebody has coronavirus.

But Norfolk County Council and its public health department, working with district councils and the local NHS, has a key role to play in the track and trace element.

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That will mean local lockdowns can be imposed in certain areas or workplaces if there are outbreaks, although the plan for how that would work is still some weeks away from being ready.

However, work to help care homes which have outbreaks, which has already been in place, with community teams now able to go in them to carry out tests, will continue.

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Dr Louise Smith, Norfolk’s director of public health, said: “Here in Norfolk we’re working closely with the county, district and borough councils and our NHS colleagues to draw up a local outbreak control plan as part of the national test and trace service.

“We’ve started work, and aim to complete the plan by July, when it will be submitted to the National Outbreak Control Plans Advisory Board.

“While this plan is developed we will continue to provide multi-agency support to Norfolk’s care homes as we have been over recent weeks.

“As we move into the next phase of tackling coronavirus, I completely understand the interest in what our response will look like.

“We are developing a new kind of plan requiring new ways of working to ensure a coherent response to tackle COVID-19 locally.

“The only existing guidance relates to specific settings such as care home or schools rather than at a community level, making our current work on local plans unprecedented.”

MORE: Did coronavirus arrive in west Norfolk before lockdown?

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