Essex Covid-19 contact tracing service sets new milestone, as one of the top performing in region
The Essex Covid-19 Contact Tracing Service has set a new milestone, with over 100,000 contacts – rating among the top in the east of England, both in terms of contacts and cases. This has been achieved despite the service seeing a quadrupling of cases coming in since the start of December 2020.
Notwithstanding recent inaccurate statements made by the Labour Leader of Basildon Council, this milestone has been achieved as a result of an outstanding partnership between Essex County Council, district, city and borough councils and Public Health England and all have agreed that the contact tracing service is a key element in containing the virus by getting to people quickly.
It is disappointing that Gavin Callaghan continues to muddle and misunderstand what is very much a success story across Essex on testing, making inaccurate and partisan statements that talk down the fantastic work that has been done by officers at Basildon Council and at County Hall, as well as our amazing local NHS staff, schools, and volunteers across the Basildon community. Basildon Conservatives regret these less than helpful remarks.
“The most important thing is that the success of testing and contact tracing in Essex is helping to break the chain of transmission, and we are beginning to see the signs of this in Basildon and elsewhere in the County." ~ Cllr David Finch, Leader of Essex County Council
Cllr David Finch, Leader of Essex County Council, said: “The most important thing is that the success of testing and contact tracing in Essex is helping to break the chain of transmission, and we are beginning to see the signs of this in Basildon and elsewhere in the County. We will continue to expand our resources and encourage and increase testing across Essex as we have been over the past few weeks and look forward to Basildon’s continued support for this programme.
“The capacity Councillor Callaghan refers to includes several fast-testing centres, which have only opened in the past week, so their bookings will not yet have reached the levels we’ve seen in other locations across the County. Following a dip in booking over the Christmas and New Year period, we are now seeking bookings for tests in places like Basildon increasing again, which is clearly apparent from the latest national data."
Essex County Council is currently seeking to ensure that there is sufficient capacity in place for increased testing in the future, as the Council begins to expand and target testing toward specific communities, professions, and to accommodate pilot projects that are currently being developed with the Department for Health and Social Care.
The ask now of residents is to be as open as possible about people they have been in contact with, and to stick to the key rules of 'hands, face and space'.
The service was set up in June 2020 and is currently one of the top performing local contact tracing services in the East of England region – dealing with up to six times the amount of cases as neighbouring counties. It currently supports national contact tracing efforts, where these have been unsuccessful, by applying local expertise and knowledge to trace individuals who have tested positive for Covid-19 and anyone who may have come into contact with them to break the chain of transmission.
In the four-week period from 13th December 2020, Essex had 56,089 cases and successfully closed 87% and 102,810 contacts successfully closing 98%. Between 28th December 2020 and 3rd January 2021, the service communicated with 8,701 contacts of cases alone, reminding them of the need to isolate, offering support and asking them to get a test.
Cllr John Spence, Cabinet Member for Adults & Health, said: “I am immensely proud of our local Covid-19 Contact Tracing Service, which is an integral part of our approach to containing the virus here in Essex. I urge anyone who is contacted by the local contact tracing service to please follow their advice – the actions you take as an identified contact will be the difference in preventing further spread of the virus. This, as well as everyone continuing to follow the guidance around hands, face and space, is incredibly important now more than ever due to the ferocity with which the new variant is spreading.”
The local contact tracing service in Essex now has over 65 staff helping to give advice and support to residents and their contacts that have tested positive, as well as supporting Essex care homes, schools, businesses and healthcare providers to manage outbreaks. The County Council is also continuing to work with Environmental Health officers at Basildon Borough Council and other local councils, who are providing their expertise and helping to identify any remaining positive cases to ensure those people take swift action to self-isolate and have the support they need to do so.
"I urge anyone who is contacted by the local contact tracing service to please follow their advice – the actions you take as an identified contact will be the difference in preventing further spread of the virus." ~ Cllr John Spence, Cabinet Member for Adults & Health
Essex County Council recently provided an additional £1.1m on top of the £900,000 to support these efforts, as well as further innovations, such as the Covid marshals and support for business compliance.
Individuals are reminded that if they are approached by the local Covid-19 Contact Tracing Service, it is vital they follow the advice given and self-isolate immediately.
Essex has provided £3 million additional funding to district, city and borough councils in the county to help local people who need to self-isolate and who are unable to work. The £500 grant per resident will be a one-off payment to cover the 10-day period of self-isolation.
More information, advice and guidance for residents and businesses is available on the Essex Coronavirus Hub: https://www.essex.gov.uk/topic/coronavirus