Coronavirus outbreak plans published

The Isle of Wight Council has today (Tuesday 30 June) launched the latest addition to its coronavirus toolkit to control the virus and protect the Island.

The Covid-19 Prevention, Incident and Outbreak Control Plan provides a blueprint for containing and managing Covid-19 outbreaks to protect residents and support the most vulnerable.

Developed to support the national NHS Test and Trace programme, the strategy sets out how possible outbreaks in settings such as schools and care homes will be identified swiftly and suppressed before they gain momentum.

Outbreak management is seen as an important addition to the council’s coronavirus toolkit which also includes test and trace and the national Staying Alert campaign.

Launching the plan, Simon Bryant, the Island’s director of public health, said residents could help reduce the risk of outbreaks occurring by taking sensible precautions.

He said: “The most important thing we can continue to do is to adhere to social distancing, two metre guidelines and wash our hands regularly to help control the virus, and, in doing so, save lives.

“If we continue to do what we’ve all been doing for the last few months — taking sensible precautions — we can help stop the spread of this very contagious virus.

“If you’ve got symptoms, even mild ones, get a test immediately. Don’t leave home for any other reason. If you test positive, we can trace the people you’ve been in contact with, and contain the virus.

“The pandemic is not over so it’s the right approach for the Island to have a local outbreak control plan. This will help us monitor and quickly respond to any increase in cases of coronavirus on the Island.”

How will the plan work?

The council will work closely with Public Health England’s local health protection team to monitor cases of coronavirus on the Island.

Under test and trace, contact tracers identify people who have been in close personal contact with individuals who have tested positive for Covid-19, to advise them to self-isolate for two weeks.

If an outbreak occurs (two or more confirmed cases in the same setting), the council will work with the local health protection team to manage the situation to prevent further spread.

The council and the local health protection team will be responsible for working with the place where the outbreak happened to tell them what to do next — for example, if anything needs to shut or anyone needs to isolate and what cleaning needs to be done, based on the level of risk.

A Covid-19 Health Protection Board will be set up to oversee and update the plan, while a separate member-led engagement board is proposed to communicate with the public.

Council leader, Dave Stewart, said the strategy supported the council’s Covid-19 recovery plans, including its recent work with local businesses and the tourism sector to help create ‘Covid-safe’ environments.

He said: “I want to reassure everyone that despite reports today that suggest otherwise, the Island is not at any immediate risk of a lockdown of the sort we are currently seeing in Leicester.

“Our rate of infection remains among the lowest in the country and we hope that with our outbreak management plan in place and the community’s continued support we can keep it that way.

“We want Island residents to be able to live healthy and productive lives but we need to achieve this in a way that is safe, protects our health and care services and enables the local economy to restart and thrive as we continue to respond to the pandemic.

“We believe the steps described in the plan are critical to preventing the spread of any infection and ultimately saving lives.

“It’s important that we prevent a second wave and as a community we look out for each other as we have throughout the whole coronavirus crisis, and continue to adhere to the social distancing guidance.”

The council’s Covid-19 Prevention, Incident and Outbreak Control Plan can be viewed here.