Somerset’s Local Outbreak Management Plan, setting out how the County Council and partners, will prevent and react to local coronavirus outbreaks, has been formally endorsed.
Somerset Local Outbreak Engagement Board held its first meeting on Friday 31 July when members considered and backed the plan and its approach.
The Board heard that Somerset cases continue to remain low compared to other parts of the country, but coronavirus is proving to be a disease around clusters and outbreaks, demonstrating the importance of local leadership in preventing and managing the spread.
The virtual meeting was chaired by County Council Leader David Fothergill and members include Somerset’s NHS Clinical Commissioning Group, district councils and Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens.
The plan sets out how the County Council and partners will actively engage with Somerset residents, businesses, visitors and communities to keep cases down and reduce further spread if outbreaks occur.
It was drawn up after all Local Authorities were tasked with producing Local Outbreak Management Plans as the focus moved away from national lockdowns to a local response.
Councillor Fothergill said: “Our plan clearly sets out how the County Council and our partners will work to prevent local outbreaks and, if any do occur how we will manage those clusters of infection.
“The Board has now endorsed the plan and recognised the immense amount of hard work involved in its creation. We must all play our part and follow the rules so we can significantly reduce the risk of catching the virus and, importantly, protect those at most risk of more serious health consequences.
“We need to prevent the spread of coronavirus together, and we will continue to work closely with communities, partners and businesses to help keep residents and visitors safe and prevent further outbreaks.”
Trudi Grant, Director of Public Health at Somerset County Council, said: “There is currently no vaccine and no treatment for COVID-19 – the best chance we have of preventing and managing the virus is our behaviour We can all play our part in preventing this horrible disease from spreading from one person to another.
“This is through simple measures we should all know now – keeping our distance from anyone outside of our household or ‘bubble’, washing our hands regularly and self-isolating if you start to show symptoms. Have a test if you have symptoms. Please also wear your face covering where necessary – on public transport, in shops and in enclosed spaces. All of us sticking to the infection control measures will help us to prevent spread of the virus and save lives.
“The plan also sets out our approach:
Prevent – we will work with communities, groups and settings to
emphasise infection control measures and reduce risk
Identify – Use our local data and intelligence to monitor the spread of infection.
Manage – Take the necessary action needed to contain outbreaks and clusters.,
Learn – we must always learn to inform future action.
“Integral to the success of the plan is the way we communicate and engage with our local communities. We must ensure we provide the right information to the right people at the right time and in the right way”.
“I want to stress that we manage outbreaks of infectious diseases all the time, for example in the cases of norovirus, meningitis, food poisoning etc. but prevention is always best, and our joint efforts to stop spread of disease in the first place will help save lives.”
“Our local efforts are supported by the government’s Test and Trace service. It is vital we all engage with this service to stop the spread of the virus. If you receive a call from a contact tracer, it means you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive. The number that will flash up on your phone from a contact tracer is 0300 013 5000. If you get one of those calls, it again comes down to our behaviour and playing our part; you must self-isolate and follow government guidance. This is for your own safety and that of those around you.”
To view Somerset’s Local Outbreak Management Plan, please view: http://docs.somerset.gov.uk/wl/?id=JNTeoNTuUtmTxW3LpuEF3OilF0xgxAI4
For help and advice on how Somerset is responding to the pandemic – and to see the latest Somerset Public Health Coronavirus figures – please visit www.somerset.gov.uk/coronavirus.
Anyone who needs Coronavirus-related help and advice during the pandemic can phone a single helpline on 0300 790 6275 (open seven days a week 8am to 6pm).