Wednesday 1 July 2020
What if there's a coronavirus outbreak in Devon?
We've developed new measures to contain and reduce cases of coronavirus in Devon, and safeguard the health of our residents.
It's called the Local Outbreak Management Plan and it details how we will work together to help reduce the risk of outbreaks in the county, and if they do occur, identify them quickly and provide a rapid response to prevent the virus spreading.
Designed to support the national NHS Test and Trace Service, it is our local blueprint for action and builds on the effort everyone has made so far to keep infection rates here so low, protect each other and support the most vulnerable in our communities.
We are also helping other councils with their localised planning for coronavirus outbreak control as one of 11 authorities chosen by the government to share good practice across the country.
The details of our plan have been broken down into key areas, and we've created this special e-bulletin to give you a flavour of what's involved.
Working in partnership will be crucial to help prevent the spread of coronavirus and swiftly respond to local outbreaks.
That means involving all local councils and public sector organisations alongside businesses, the voluntary sector and communities, as well as continuing to work with the government and Public Health England.
Who is involved will depend on where an outbreak occurs, but it is critical that everyone understands the plan, role and actions they are expected to take in a response.
It's good that we can be a bit flexible locally, but it's also important that the way we work is consistent, so our Local Outbreak Management Plan includes some principles which the South West Regional Directors of Public Health have all agreed to. You can read them in full on our website.
They include things like making sure we let you know about the most up-to-date science, evidence and data and learning from one another to ensure we provide the most effective response we can.
There's also an explanation about who is responsible for the plan, and how they will be supported to deliver it.
Using data to make good decisions
We work very closely with Public Health England and are receiving up to the minute data from them about coronavirus cases in Devon.
We need to make the best use of timely, high-quality, local data to help us take informed decisions to control the transmission of coronavirus in Devon.
We've agreed a transparent and consistent approach to collecting and sharing data and intelligence across the South West so we can analyse, interpret and compare information easily.
This evidence is vital to our successful response to local outbreaks and will help us make the right decisions at the right time and share those decisions and why they have been made, with you.
Helping people and communities
An important part of our Local Outbreak Management Plan is about how we will support vulnerable people and communities and how we plan to respond to outbreaks in high-risk settings, such as schools and care homes.
We know that there are some people and communities who are at higher risk right now, including older people and those with underlying health conditions, refugees and asylum seekers, people with a learning disability and autism and BAME communities.
We're working with partners and the voluntary and community sector, to ensure that people and families who need additional support are able to find appropriate help.
It is important that our plan can be used to respond to all local coronavirus outbreaks, however, some places are possibly more likely than others to have outbreaks, or it maybe more challenging to manage an outbreak there because of the nature of the place or vulnerability of the people involved. For example, care homes, schools or a factory.
So we've got specific plans in place with pre-agreed actions to respond to outbreaks in these higher-risk settings.
Special online 'action cards' have been developed nationally for businesses and organisations to download and use to let them know what they should do if they suspect they have a coronavirus outbreak as well as guidance on what they can do to help prevent infection. We will add the 'action cards' to our website as soon as they are available.
Training and advice will also continue to be provided for those who work in higher-risk settings or with the most vulnerable people.
Testing and tracing
When someone tests positive for coronavirus the NHS Test and Trace service is notified. If a local outbreak is identified, we will work with partners to contain it.
Anyone in England who has symptoms of coronavirus, whatever their age, can get a test by going to the NHS website or by calling 119.
If you test positive, the NHS Test and Trace service will ask you for the details of anyone you've been in close contact with, and if necessary will inform them that they must self-isolate at home to help stop the spread of coronavirus.
If cases are linked to one particular place, for example a school, care home or workplace, it could be a local outbreak, in which case we will work with partners including Public Health England, to follow up cases and agree appropriate actions to contain the spread.
This could include mobilising local testing units, gathering more local information and providing infection control advice to everyone.
Communication and engagement
It is important that everyone has trust and confidence in how we plan to work together to help prevent local outbreaks in Devon, and manage them quickly and effectively if they do occur.
We all want Devon to recover from this pandemic as quickly and as safely as possible, and for that to happen everyone needs to understand the part they have to play in preventing local outbreaks.
This includes observing social distancing, wearing face coverings in enclosed public spaces where social distancing isn’t possible, for example on a bus or in a shop, and continuing to wash hands thoroughly and regularly.
Anyone with symptoms can get tested. You must book a test on the NHS website or call 119 if you have no internet access. If you test positive, please help the NHS Test and Trace service alert people you have been in contact with so that they can help us control infection levels by self-isolating.
If there is a local outbreak, we are well prepared to take action based on real-time data and the best scientific advice to help manage the spread of the virus. We will engage and involve those affected, and will keep people well informed and updated.
The coronavirus advice pages on our website will be regularly updated with the latest information and guidance. We will also work with with the local media and other partners such as MPs, district councils, businesses and community organisations to help important information reach all our residents.
The government has made around £300 million available to implement Local Outbreak Management Plans in order to manage local coronavirus outbreaks.
Responding to local outbreaks really is a team effort though. While it is led by our public health team, the skills and expertise of a wide range of organisations and professional groups are involved, including environmental health, infection prevent and control, health and social care, the NHS, health and safety, data and intelligence analysts, and communications.
Additional resources are available, including support specifically for vulnerable people who are instructed to self-isolate.
Have you got any questions or comments?
We want to make sure we’re giving you all the information you need so we hope you’ve found this email useful.
You may have questions about the Local Outbreak Management Plan, or you may want to know more about what happens if a cluster of positive cases is identified near you or your family.
We've listed some 'Frequently Asked Questions' (FAQs) on our website, and we will continue to update and add to them. If there are general questions not covered so far in our list, or you have any other comments on how we could improve this email, please give us your feedback.
It should take less than five minutes to provide feedback and all responses are anonymous. We’d really appreciate your help, thank you.