Coronavirus test and trace rollout: How it will work in Norfolk
- Credit: Archant
The government’s test and trace system will be launched tomorrow, with Norfolk’s director of public health saying it is vital to stop the spread of coronavirus.
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 service rolls out across England from Thursday and Dr Louise Smith, Norfolk County Council’s director of public health, said people will need to pay heed if they are called by contract tracers to say they need to self-isolate after coming into contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
Under the system, anyone who tests positive for coronavirus will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace and will need to share information about their recent interactions.
That could include household members, people with whom they have been in direct contact, or within two metres for more than 15 minutes.
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People identified as having been in close contact with someone who has a positive test must stay at home for 14 days, even if they do not have symptoms, to stop unknowingly spreading the virus.
If those in isolation develop symptoms, they can book a test at nhs.uk/coronavirus or by calling 119.
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If they test positive, they must continue to stay at home for seven days or until their symptoms have passed. If they test negative, they must complete the 14-day isolation period.
Members of their household will not have to stay at home unless the person identified becomes symptomatic, at which point they must also self-isolate for 14 days to avoid unknowingly spreading the virus.
Speaking at a virtual meeting of the council’s scrutiny committee on Wednesday, Dr Smith said: “The likelihood is that we won’t see a vaccine for at least a year, so the strategy going forward is testing and tracing.
“That will involve isolating people who have tested positive and then phoning those who have been in contact with them, getting them to isolate and getting them tested.
“It is going to be something which could affect anyone in the general public. It’s about trying to trace how the virus hops from person to person and to get people to isolate to prevent that spread.
She said local teams could need to get involved if people could not be contacted by phone, or had particularly complex situations, such as homeless people.
Labour councillor Emma Corlett asked if it could lead to specific lockdowns of streets, postcode areas or villages, but Dr Smith said the strategy was not yet developed enough for her to give an answer.
Work continues on the NHS COVID-19 app following its rollout on the Isle of Wight - but that is not being launched nationally today.
The government says that will be launched in the coming weeks once contact tracing is up and running
Health secretary Matt Hancock said: “As we move to the next stage of our fight against coronavirus, we will be able to replace national lockdowns with individual isolation and, if necessary, local action where there are outbreaks.
“NHS Test and Trace will be vital to stopping the spread of the virus. It is how we will be able to protect our friends and family from infection, and protect our NHS.
“This new system will help us keep this virus under control while carefully and safely lifting the lockdown nationally.”
How will test and trace work?
FOR SOMEONE WITH CORONAVIRUS SYMPTOMS:
STEP 1 ISOLATE: As soon as you experience coronavirus symptoms, you should self-isolate for at least seven days. Anyone else in your household should self-isolate for 14 days from when you started having symptoms.
STEP 2 TEST: You should order a coronavirus test immediately at nhs.uk/coronavirus or call 119 if you have no internet access.
STEP 3 RESULTS: If your test is positive you must complete the remainder of your seven-day self-isolation. Anyone in your household should also complete self-isolation for 14 days from when you started having symptoms.
If your test is negative, you and other household members no longer need to isolate.
STEP 4 SHARE CONTACTS: If you test positive for coronavirus, the NHS Test and Trace service will send you a text or email alert or call you within 24 hours with instructions of how to share details of people you have been in close, recent contact with and places you have visited.
You will be asked to do this online via a secure website or you will be called by an NHS contact tracers.
FOR THOSE CONTACTED IF YOU HAVE BEEN IN CLOSE CONTACT WITH SOMEONE WHO HAS TESTED POSITIVE FOR CORONAVIRUS
STEP 1 ALERT: You will be alerted by the NHS Test and Trace service if you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus.
The alert will come either by text or email and you’ll need to log on to the NHS Test and Trace website, If not possble, a trained call handler will talk you through what you need to do.
Under 18s will get a phone call and a parent or guardian will be asked to give permission for the call to continue.
STEP 2 ISOLATE: You will be asked to begin self-isolation for up to 14 days, depending on when you last came into contact with the person who has tested positive.
The government says it is really important to do this even if you don’t feel unwell, because it can take up to 14 days for the symptoms to develop.
This will be crucial to avoid you unknowingly spreading the virus to others. Your household doesn’t need to self-isolate with you, but they must take extra care to follow the guidance on social distancing and washing your hands.
STEP 3 TEST IF NEEDED: If you develop symptoms of coronavirus, other members of your household should self-isolate at home and you should book a coronavirus test at nhs.uk/coronavirus or call 119 if you have no internet access.
If your test is positive you must continue to stay at home for seven days.
If your test is negative, you must still complete your 14 day self-isolation period because the virus may not be detectable yet.