Kirklees and Wakefield Councils have joined forces to provide a local test and trace service. This locally enhanced contact tracing service will roll out across the local authority areas from 30 November.
Working closely with NHS Test and Trace and fully integrated with the national service, the new local service has been developed to provide further support. Drawing on local community knowledge, the aim is to make contact with hard to reach positive cases to identify their close contacts where the NHS service has been unsuccessful.
Contact Tracing Officers who have undergone specialist training will follow up with people yet to respond to NHS Test and Trace, via text or phone, initially calling them from a local number. If contact is still unsuccessful a home visit may take place.
People who have tested positive will be given advice on how they can isolate, the importance of doing so and where they can access support. Positive cases will also be asked to share details of others they may have been in close contact with.
Councillor Shabir Pandor, Leader of Kirklees Council said:
“This is the right thing to do to get the virus under control and is great news for Kirklees. It will make an impact to combat infections at a local level. I have complete confidence in its ability to rely on our local knowledge to make contact with those hard to reach people, providing us with another tool to help curb the spread of COVID-19 in our communities.
“It’s crucial we make contact with those who have tested positive to ensure they fully understand what isolation is, why it’s so important and the key part they play in our collective effort in halting further spread of infection.
“Alongside this, we want people to know what help and support is available to them so they can isolate effectively. Whether a person has tested positive or is a close contact, community support to assist with practical tasks such as food shopping and getting hold of medical supplies is available alongside financial support where eligible.
“I want to thank Kirklees residents for their patience and understanding in these difficult times and continue to be proud of how everyone has pulled together throughout these challenging times.”
Rachel Spencer-Henshall, Director of Public Health at Kirklees Council and Anna Hartley, Director of Public Health at Wakefield Council said:
“This is a concentrated effort by both councils to drive down infections with welcome support from Public Health England.
“Whilst there has and continues to be sustained efforts across both local authorities to help our communities protect themselves and others, both Kirklees and Wakefield still have above average infection rates. This new service will further support the work we are doing to tackle infection rates on a local level.
“Isolation plays a key part in breaking the chain of infection, the quicker we can reach those who’ve tested positive and their contacts through the introduction of this service – the quicker we can break the chain.
“Additionally, we should all continue with the basic measures – social distancing from those outside your household, wearing a face covering, washing your hands regularly and isolating and testing when you have symptoms – as they remain very important.
“These simple actions make a difference wherever you live. Together they help to contain and prevent further spread of COVID-19, significantly reduce your chances of being infected or infecting someone else and ultimately help to bring our rates back down.”
Anyone who is contacted will never be asked for money or bank details for any reason. Staff making home visits will have official ID badges.