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Councils call for greater control over test and trace

Town hall leaders have called on ministers for more funding for local test and trace programmes as the number of Covid-19 cases continues to soar.

The County Councils Network (CCN) said the extra funding for local programmes would help them get ‘ahead of the curve’ and prevent further lockdown extensions in their areas.

New figures released by the CCN show the number of new coronavirus cases has almost tripled in the space of two weeks across the 36 county areas, with over 26,304 new cases recorded last week compared to 9,000 just two weeks before.

On Friday, Lancashire become the first county to be placed in tier three restrictions.

Nottinghamshire, Durham, and Northumberland, plus parts of Derbyshire, Surrey, Cumbria and Leicestershire have gone into tier two local restrictions.

On Tuesday, Essex County Council became the first shire county to ask the government to place the area in tier two.

The latest NHS test and trace figures, published last week, show that 57.6% of close contacts were successfully traced by the national system handling cases online or by call centres in the period October 1 to October 7.

In contrast, 97.7% of the complex cases handed to local teams have been traced successfully.

Many of these teams will include local authorities, who have set up local test and trace programmes in addition to the national scheme.

Last week, Social Care Today reported that councils in Oxfordshire had launched a local contact tracing system to help people who have recently tested positive for Covid-19.

‘Effective local test and trace measures will play a big role in preventing further lockdown measures in counties, which contain a range of communities and rural and remote areas. If only the areas that are on high alert are allowed to take over test and trace efforts, then this will have been a huge missed opportunity,’ said CCN chairman, Cllr David Williams.

‘Counties are ready to roll this out quickly – but this should be for all areas rather than ones with the highest cases in recognition that it will be a truly national effort that will suppress the virus.’

 

Photo Credit – Jarmoluk (Pixabay)

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