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Middlesbrough Leads Way With Local-0 Test & Trace Pilot

By Published March 23, 2021

MIDDLESBROUGH has joined a pioneering group of local authorities to launch a local Covid-19 test & trace service as part of a national pilot.

Launched at the start of March, the Local-0 scheme sees all cases of Covid-19 in Middlesbrough contacted by a locally recruited team of contact tracing officers from Middlesbrough Council's Public Protection Service.

Cases in Middlesbrough now receive their first contact by telephone within hours of them getting their positive result.

Support needs are identified for those in isolation and arrangements are being made quickly to provide assistance, including financial support for those who qualify.

The contact officers ask a series of standard questions, identify contacts and use their local knowledge to better understand the information provided by the case.

Information is gathered for the period relating to the seven days prior to the onset of symptoms. The call handler's local knowledge enables a better understanding of the premises or workplaces attended by the cases during this time. 

This information is then shared for follow up contact by Environmental Health Officers, with advice on isolation provided according to individual circumstance and to fit in with local arrangements.

Several attempts are made to contact cases over a 24-hour period - if contact is not made with a case after 24 hours, they then receive a socially distanced visit to offer support and to ask them to respond to the calls.

To date the Local-0 is achieving contact with 94% of cases of Covid-19 and providing isolation advice and support.

More than 350 cases have responded within six hours and 38 who have not responded within 24 hours have received a home visit.  All cases, including most of those normally escalated to PHE are now responded to by Middlesbrough's Local-0 team.

Judith Hedgley, Middlesbrough Council's Head of Public Protection, said: "Local-0 is a vital tool in the armoury we have to tackle the virus, identify contacts, to help to nip potential outbreaks in the bud and make sure that cases get the support they need.

"All positive cases should expect our phone calls and I urge them to answer their phones to help the contact tracers to do their job and potentially save lives.

"We are there to offer support and advise for their period of isolation and will visit them to make sure they have the support they need."

Councillor Dorothy Davison, Middlesbrough Council's Executive member for Adult Social Care & Public Health, said: "Middlesbrough's response to the pandemic has been first class throughout, and we're finally seeing the light at the end of tunnel thanks to the amazing national roll-out of the vaccination programme.

"But we can't afford to drop our guard, because this dreadful disease will surge again if we take our eye off the ball.

"That's where local testing and tracing comes in - I'm delighted that we're part of this national pilot which uses local knowledge and expertise to limit the virus's ability to spread."

The national NHS Test and Trace programme will continue to trace the contacts of individuals who have tested positive, and continues to provide support to Middlesbrough Council throughout the process, in order to help stop the spread of the virus as effectively as possible.


For information on local help and support, visit www.middlesbrough.gov.uk/helpboro 

For advice for clinically extremely vulnerable residents call Middlesbrough Council's support line on 01642 729777

The latest advice from Government and Public Health England can be found at https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus  


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