West Sussex developing coronavirus outbreak control plan

West Sussex County Council has been given more than £3million by the government to prepare a plan to respond to any local coronavirus outbreaks.

Tuesday, 16th June 2020, 5:14 pm
A Coronavirus testing kit (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Known as an outbreak control plan, the work will support the new test and trace service, with West Sussex allocated £3,178,715 from a £35m pot.

Chief executive officer Becky Shaw told a meeting of the cabinet that the plan had to be ready by the end of June but the council was still waiting for further guidance from the government.

Ms Shaw said: “We’re working in very close partnership with our borough and district and our NHS colleagues to ensure we build on the existing experience and the plans that we have in the event of an outbreak.”

Anna Raleigh, director of public health, said a ‘very draft’ version of the plan had been shared with the district and borough councils and would also be shared with the NHS and Health Watch.

The plan has a number of themes:

• Identifying outbreaks in care homes and schools

• Finding and managing people and places at high risk of developing Covid-19

• Making sure enough local testing in place

• Contact tracing

• Setting up an outbreak protection board

• Engaging with the community ‘so people feel confident that they understand what the government guidance is around social distancing’.

While the council already has experience of pandemic planning and support in schools and care homes, Ms Raleigh told the meeting they also had to look at businesses and places of worship.

She added: “The vast majority of outbreaks at this point in time are in healthcare settings, particularly hospital settings. So we’re monitoring that and waiting to see what happens and what comes forward.”

The funding was welcomed by Crawley MP Henry Smith.

He said: “This additional funding from the Government will be key to supporting our local efforts, and I look forward to working with local authority leaders to ensure that it is put to good use.

“Tackling coronavirus requires us all to play our part, engaging with the new Test and Trace Service where we need to and continuing to stay alert, to control the virus, and save lives.”

Nadine Dorries, minister for patient safety, suicide prevention and mental health, added: “Local authorities will be vital in the effort to contain COVID-19 at a community level.

“The pandemic requires a national effort but that will only be effective as a result of local authorities, working hand in hand with Public Health England and contact tracers to focus on the containment of local outbreaks, in order to control the transmission and the spread of the virus.

“For contact tracing to be effective when it is rolled out, we will need people to continue to follow guidelines and stay at home if they have symptoms.”

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