The National Test and Trace scheme to help prevent a second spike of the coronavirus and the region’s Local Outbreak Control Plan were on the agenda at the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Health and Wellbeing Board’s virtaul meeting this week (Monday, June 30).
Dr Liz Robin, Director of Public Health for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough told the meeting that rapid communication and public support remain key to tackling the spread of the virus and in tackling any possible second spike.
She said: “Communication to the public is absolutely critical as it was the public that stopped the first wave of COVID-19 by adhering to the social distancing rules throughout lockdown.
“Yes, we needed a little bit of enforcement along the way, but the vast majority of the public knew how serious and vital it was to obey the rules and defeat the virus and the only way they could do that was if they were informed what to do and perhaps more importantly, what not to do. The same will be true of the second spike if it comes.
“When, all that we have to fight this pandemic are public health measures – we don’t have a vaccine we don’t have a cure – then it’s exactly those public health measures and how people behave that will make all the difference.
“Therefore, one of the first strategies we put in place was our public communications team focusing on where an outbreak occurs and how to inform the community what they need to do.
“Community understanding, trust and mobilisation when necessary is absolutely key and each local engagement member board can be called at 24-hours’ notice if there is a major issue.”
Cllr Susan Van de Ven (LibDems, South Cambridgeshire District Council) said: “I would like to know what role will be played by the many local Covid-19 action groups who’ve demonstrated right from the very beginning with very impressive infrastructures that they can respond rapidly; but it’s not clear to me at all from this report what their role would be?”
Dr Robin responded: “The local response groups sitting under the district hubs are of course vital to this process, because with Test and Trace and any localised outbreaks, more people may be required to self-isolate at very short notice which is where local knowledge plays such an important role.
“People might find out very suddenly that they must stay at home for fourteen days and while some will be okay with this and rapidly organise medical care through various organisations.
“However, for those more vulnerable in the community, support and arrangements at a local level will be massively important to them ensuring that they get their food brought in, their medicines collected, their pets walked etc, so we feel there is a very real role for the local Covid-19 groups and we have included them within the plan.”
The members unanimously voted to approve the Local Outbreak Control Plan.
The draft version of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Local Outbreak Control Plan was put to central government for approval on June 30. Once approved, the final version will be made available to the public.