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Areas to get dedicated coronavirus test and trace teams in bid to reach more cases

By Richard Guttridge | Sandwell | Coronavirus | Published:

Councils will now be able to call on a dedicated team of test and trace workers in a bid to reach more people who test positive for Covid-19 and prevent the spread of the virus.

Areas will have dedicated testing teams

Specific contact tracers will work in the Black Country and Staffordshire as part of Government plans to beef up the test and trace system and join up both national and local responses.

It comes after Sandwell Council decided to set up its own tracing system following criticism the national equivalent wasn't good enough, as cases rose in the borough over recent weeks.

The new system is being rolled out following trials in Blackburn, Luton and Leicester.

The Department of Health and Social Care said if the dedicated national team cannot make contact with a resident within a set period of time, the local public health officials would be able to use data provided by NHS Test and Trace to follow up.

Executive chair of NHS Test and Trace, Dido Harding, said: “NHS Test and Trace is one of the largest contact tracing and testing systems anywhere in the world, and was built rapidly, drawing on the UK’s existing health protection networks, to stop the spread of coronavirus. At the height of the pandemic we ensured the system had extra capacity in place to cope with potential peaks in the virus.

“We have always been clear that NHS Test and Trace must be local by default and that we do not operate alone – we work with and through partners across the country. As we learn more about the spread of the disease, we are able to move to our planned next step and become even more effective in tackling the virus.

'Stop the spread'

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“After successful trials in a small number of local areas, I am very pleased to announce that we are now offering this integrated localised approach to all local authorities to ensure we can reach more people in their communities and stop the spread of Covid-19.”

Concerns were raised in Sandwell that the original track and trace system was not accurately providing employment details of people testing positive, meaning cases could not be accurately traced to workplaces.

Sandwell Council interim leader Councillor Maria Crompton said she hoped the move would improve track and trace at a local level.

She said: "I think we have been in contact with almost 100 per cent of cases as we have become aware of them in Sandwell.

"Any Government assistance is always welcome and we need to work with the Government obviously.

"It always helps if people work together, in every circumstance."

Richard Guttridge

By Richard Guttridge
Investigations Editor - @RichG_star

Investigations Editor for the Express & Star.

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