18 February 2021| | 3 min read
Local contact tracing programme launches in Newcastle
Local efforts are being stepped up to reach Newcastle residents who have tested positive for Covid-19 but have been unable to provide vital information to NHS Test and Trace.
When someone tests positive for the Covid-19, NHS Test and Trace uses the details they submitted when booking their tests to attempt to make contact and identify where they have been and who they have spent time with.
This is a critical step in highlighting where the virus might be spreading and, when done successfully, helps to limit the impact of potential outbreaks.
However, with national efforts unable to contact a number of those who test positive, Public Health officers at Newcastle City Council and Newcastle Hospitals are working together to speak to residents in the city who have not provided potentially vital information about their contacts.
If NHS Test and Trace has been unable to reach an individual after 32 hours of a positive result being recorded, a local team in Newcastle will begin the process of trying to contact positive cases in the community.
Cllr Irim Ali, Newcastle City Council cabinet member for Neighbourhoods and Public Health, said: “Efficient and effective contact tracing is essential to supressing outbreaks and managing this virus.
“As the vaccination programme continues to protect the most vulnerable in our society, localised tracing will give us the opportunity to prevent large outbreaks and help contain things at the point of the initial infection.
“In partnership with Newcastle Hospitals through the Integrated Covid Hub, we hope by receiving communication from a friendly local contact tracer with an identifiable local telephone number, people who have tested positive will be more willing to answer the phone and provide information which could be key to managing outbreaks.
“If you receive a text message or email from our officers, and a follow-up call from 0191 278 7878, I urge you to please answer the phone and help us protect our city.”
Patricia Whelan-Moss, of the Integrated Covid Hub, said: “Successful contact tracing and then safe behaviour, specifically not mixing with anyone else if you’ve been around a person who tests positive for Covid, is key to managing the spread of infection.
“We want to help everyone who has a positive result to identify those they have had contact with, to make sure all individuals in the potential chain of infection know how to self-isolate safely and to provide the right support to assist with this.”
Individuals whose details are shared with local contact tracers will receive a text message or email advising them they will be contacted later the same day by telephone and asking them to answer the call and help protect the city.
All information provided is confidential but could prove key to preventing the spread of COVID-19 within the community.
More information is available at www.newcastle.gov.uk/texts
Anyone who develops symptoms of Covid-19 should self-isolate and book a test at www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test
Key workers in Newcastle who cannot work from home and do not have any symptoms of the virus can access free regular rapid turnaround tests at the Banqueting Hall at the Civic Centre. Visit www.newcastle.gov.uk/rapidtesting to find out more.