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Council staff in Norfolk to support NHS with Test and Trace system

Call handlers from Norfolk County Council are to support NHS Test and Trace teams.

The council announced on Friday (Sept 11) that its staff will step in when NHS Test and Trace teams cannot contact new cases within 24 hours.

Public Health England has approved this new way of working to enhance the current service carried out by the NHS.

Specially trained local call handlers from the county council will make further attempts to contact cases, including checking local information to clarify and improve data details.

The new service then extends out to ground teams at all district councils, who can further enhance the chances of engaging with local people.

Tom McCabe, head of paid service said: “Our commitment to support locally based contact tracing is the right thing to do to reach out to and protect our communities and businesses.

"Should we experience further outbreaks, we will be in a better position to prioritise testing.”

And Cllr Andrew Proctor, county council leader and chairman of the Norfolk Covid-19 Engagement Board said increasing the performance of contact tracing should mean that more cases are contacted, given advice and support to self-isolate.

He added: “Being proactive will also have a positive effect on the Norfolk economy – quickly identifying and containing the spread of the virus should allow businesses to return to operation as quickly as possible.”

Dr Louise Smith, Norfolk County Council’s director of public health, said: “Having the information ourselves will help us identify trends and sharing information at an earlier stage will most definitely speed up the tracing process, and give us early flags around what could become an outbreak.”

At present, the process of contact tracing is done entirely by Public Health England from its regional team, but more of the effort will move to the local authority.

All data will be entered into a local outbreak management database that will allow contact tracers to identify links between referrals and any outbreaks in Norfolk.

Funding will come from the Government’s Local Outbreak Control Plan allocation for Norfolk, which totals £3.7m.

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