Hampshire CC publishes plan to reduce the spread of the Covid-19 virus
Hampshire County Council has published its Local Outbreak Control Plan which sets out how, working closely with key partners including the NHS and district councils, it will work to identify and contain local outbreaks of coronavirus – vital for protecting the public’s health, and supporting Hampshire residents and businesses to return to a healthy normal.
Leader of Hampshire County Council, Councillor Keith Mans, said: “As lockdown restrictions increasingly ease, it will be critical to ensure that we have a robust mechanism in place to enable us to prevent the spread of the virus and move swiftly if it starts to take hold again - either in an individual setting such as a care home or school, or in a specific geographical location, such as a town centre.
“Our ambition is simple – to build on the progress made to date in controlling the spread of the virus, and to take decisive action should cases start to rise again.
“The key to success lies with us all. Through the co-ordinated efforts of a range of organisations across local and national Government, the NHS, Public Health England, businesses and employers, and community partners, Hampshire residents can be confident that everything will be done to help life to return to as normal as possible, in a way that is safe, protects our health and care systems, as well as our local economy.”
In line with national guidance, and to stop further spread or recurrence of the virus, the Hampshire Plan covers a number of priority areas. These include:
Care Homes and schools - measures are already in place in care homes and schools across the county to prevent the risk of infection. However, ongoing monitoring is required to ensure any further action needed to manage an outbreak and protect lives is quickly identified and implemented.
High risk places - working with partners including the NHS and district councils, a wide range of places such as sheltered housing, airports, transport hubs, prisons, hospitals, tourist venues and higher risk workplaces will be monitored, and action taken to manage any local outbreaks.
Vulnerable people – significant work has already been undertaken across the county to identify vulnerable groups of people, and to ensure they are supported by identifying relevant community help groups and ensuring services meet the needs of Hampshire’s diverse communities. This work will continue.
A new, Hampshire Local Outbreak Engagement Board which will be a sub-committee of the County Council’s Cabinet, will review recommendations made by the Director of Public Health, on any local action that may be required more broadly across the county to ensure:
1. The COVID-19 reproduction number (R) is controlled;
2. any spread of infection is reduced;
3. lives are saved
The Board is also responsible for overseeing timely communications and engagement with the public in relation to local outbreaks and any subsequent actions that may be required.
A key component of the Plan is to support the effective roll out of the national Test and Trace programme across Hampshire. This ensures that anyone who develops symptoms of COVID-19 can quickly be tested to find out if they have the virus, as well as to help trace close recent contacts of anyone who tests positive and, if necessary, notify them that they must self-isolate at home to help stop the virus spreading further.
The Board will also take responsibility for ensuring testing is accessible to the whole Hampshire population. This could include delivering tests to isolated individuals, establishing local pop-up sites or hosting mobile testing units at ‘high-risk’ locations such as a factory, where people may be working closely together.
Hampshire County Council’s Director of Public Health, Simon Bryant, said: “Our Plan builds on the extensive learning gained over the past few months in how best to deal with outbreaks quickly, to help minimise further spread. As we move forward, we will continue to review and evolve our approach to ensure systems are in place to identify and suppress possible outbreaks before they gain momentum.
“If we are to avoid a damaging second wave of infections, it is important for everyone to continue to follow national advice – stay two metres apart, or one metre plus if two is not possible, wear face coverings where advised to do so, and wash hands – frequently.”