Norfolk to get £3.7m for local lockdowns to tackle virus outbreaks

People in Norfolk are being urged to paqy heed to coronavirus symptoms and Test and Trace contact. P

People in Norfolk are being urged to paqy heed to coronavirus symptoms and Test and Trace contact. Pic: Ben Birchall/PA Wire. - Credit: PA

Norfolk has been awarded just over £3.7m to support the new coronavirus NHS Test and Trace service through local lockdowns to stop the pandemic spreading in the county.

Tom McCabe. Photo: Supplied

Tom McCabe. Photo: Supplied - Credit: Supplied

And council bosses have said such measures will be a “vital tool” to stop the spread of COVID-19 - although there remains a lack of clarity on just how the local lockdowns would work.

The county was named last month 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 Department of Health and Social Care announced then that each local authority will be given a share of £300m to come up with outbreak control plans for local lockdowns.

And the government has now confirmed Norfolk will get £3.72m to help with its plan, while Suffolk will receive £2.79m.

Through Test and Trace, when people test positive for coronavirus, NHS contact tracers get in touch with the people with whom an infected person has come into contact and get them to isolate and get tests.

Data will be shared with councils through the Joint Biosecurity Centre, so local lockdowns can be imposed if there are outbreaks.

Norfolk is putting together its outbreak control plan to submit to the National Outbreak Control Plans Advisory Board by July.Tom McCabe, head of paid service at Norfolk County Council said: “The grant from government for the Test and Trace programme in Norfolk provides more clarity as we begin to introduce this vital tool in containing COVID-19.

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“There are still many uncertainties and we recognise that COVID-19 will be a feature of life for many months to come.

“The £3.7m will pay for the implementation of the local outbreak control plan which we are developing through June.”

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However, there remains a lack of clarity on whether councils would have powers to enforce lockdowns across cities, towns or streets, as opposed to individual buildings, such as offices, schools and hospitals.

Council leaders, at a hearing of a parliamentary committee, called on ministers to explain what local lockdowns would actually entail.

Similar concerns were raised at a meeting of Norwich City Council’s scrutiny committee last week.

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