Newcastle's COVID Control Plan

The Newcastle COVID Control Plan sets out the collaborative approach to be taken in Newcastle to prevent a new COVID-19 outbreak in the city as well as the response and control plans that would need to be implemented in the event of an outbreak.

It has been developed to support the national NHS test and trace programme by providing a coordinated local approach to contain and manage local outbreaks of COVID-19. 

The working plan was approved by the City Futures Board (formerly Wellbeing for Life Board) at a virtual meeting held on Monday June 29, 2020.

It is built around seven key themes with an emphasis on prevention and building on the well-established partnerships and collaboration in the city. The themes are: 

  1. Planning for local outbreaks in care homes and schools 

  1. Identifying and planning how to manage high risk places, locations and communities of interest 

  1. Identifying methods for local testing to ensure a swift response that is accessible to the entire population

  1. Assessing local and regional contact tracing capability in complex settings

  1. Data integration

  1. Vulnerable people - supporting vulnerable local people to get help to self-isolate and ensuring services meet the needs of diverse communities 

  1. Local Boards - establishing governance structures led by existing COVID-19 Health Protection Boards in conjunction with local NHS and supported by existing Gold command forums and a new member-led Board to communicate with the general public 

The full plan is available to view here.

COVID Control Plan – Frequently Asked Questions

Newcastle’s COVID Control Plan sets out the citywide approach to prevent and control further localised outbreaks of coronavirus, including the NHS Test and Trace System. This will also support the safe re-opening of the city and economic recovery.

The government instructed all upper tier local authorities (county councils and unitary authorities) to produce Local Outbreak Plans by the end of June 2020. Local authorities have a significant role to play in the identification and management of COVID-19 outbreaks and these plans ensure that any local outbreak is responded to swiftly, protecting communities and helping prevent the spread of the virus.

The plans are built around seven key themes, prescribed by government. The  emphasis of our plan for Newcastle is on prevention and building on the well-established, successful partnerships and collaboration in the city.

The seven key themes are:

  • Care Homes and schools – planning for local outbreaks in care homes and schools, monitoring and providing support when needed. 
  • High risk places, location and communities – Identifying and planning how to manage high risk places, location and communities and helping to shape preventative measures and outbreak management plans. 
  • Local Testing Capacity – Methods for local testing that are accessible to all and have a quick response. 
  • Contact Tracing in complex settings – Accessing local and regional contact tracing capacity in complex places such as hotels and rehabilitation facilities.  
  • Data – Using local insight, regional data and planning with the Joint Biosecurity Centre. 
  • Vulnerable People – Continued support to people who have been asked to shield, self-isolate or are vulnerable – this will include adaptions to current services like Citylife Line. 
  • Local Boards – establishing structures to oversee and support these plans, communication with partners and the public.

Who will manage the COVID Control Plan?

It will be overseen by the City Futures Board (formerly Wellbeing for Life Board) which has membership from the council, local health partners, universities and voluntary sector. City Council on June 24 approved a proposal which will see the Board take on the role of the Newcastle COVID Recovery Board for an initial six months, meeting more frequently and increasing the scope of its membership to include organisations and key businesses that have a vital role to play in the ongoing prevention of the virus and citywide recovery.

On a day to day basis, the council’s Chief Executive and Directors’ Team will function as the Health Protection Board, responsible for the implementation of the local outbreak control plan.

What is NHS Track and Trace?

NHS Test and Trace ensures that anyone who develops symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) can quickly be tested to find out if they have the virus, and helps identify close recent contacts of anyone who tests positive for coronavirus and, if necessary, notifies them that they must self-isolate at home to help stop the spread of the virus.

More details can be found on the NHS Trace and Trace pages.

Is this just happening in Newcastle?

No, all upper tier local authorities are required to have local outbreak control plans in place.

Newcastle was announced as one of 11 authorities across England tp be part of a good practice network to share learning and feedback on the emerging national ‘contain’ framework.

What happens if there is a local outbreak in my community?

The precise action that will be taken will be depends on upon the complexity of the outbreak. The plans have been produced on a tiered scale depending on severity.

An outbreak is generally defined as two or more confirmed cases among individuals associated with a specific setting with onset dates within 14 days and identified with direct exposure between at least two of the cases or no other alternative source for the infection.  As soon as an outbreak is detected, the North East Public Health England Health Protection Team will get in touch with the setting and work with the council’s Public Health team to agree any  measures to be taken to stop the spread before it escalates further into the community.

The action that is taken will depend on the severity of the outbreak and the most appropriate measures. Depending on the severity, the outbreak will fall into one of four possible scenarios:

Green - ‘Wraparound team’ response within the setting with no further action required
Amber – Contained response where appropriate continuity plans will be implemented and cases could be isolated
Red – Formal outbreak response where a formal Outbreak Control Team will be established if there were multiple linked cases or there is an increase in the number of positive cases within the community
Red+ - Escalation to major incident due to the ‘red’ arrangements not being sufficient to mange the incident – this may include if the outbreak is extremely large, covers multiple sites or communities or threatens to overwhelm services and response.

When should I book a test?

Only request a COVID-19 test if you are displaying symptoms. This could be one or more symptoms of a new and persistent cough, a high temperature, or a loss of taste and/or smell.

If you are in self-isolation because a member of your household has tested positive for COVID-19, you do not need to get tested but you must carry out the full self-isolation period of 14 days.

How NHS Trace and Track works -

I have symptoms of coronavirus.

  • Isolate as soon as you experience coronavirus symptoms and order a test on www.nhs.uk/coronavirus or call 119 if you have no internet access.
  • Anyone else in your household must self-isolate for 14 days from when your symptoms started. They don’t need to order a test until they have symptoms.
  • If your test is positive you must complete the remainder of your 7-day isolation – the people in your household must also finish their 14-day isolation.
  • The NHS Test and Trace service will send a text, email alert or call you with instructions of how to share details with people with whom you have had close, recent contact with and places you have visited.
  • If your test comes back negative, you and other household members no longer need to self-isolate.

I have been contacted by the NHS Test and Trace service because I have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus.

  • You will be alerted by NHS Test and Trace – the alert will usually come by text, email or phone call. You will then need log onto the Test and Trace website or a trained call handler will talk you through the next step. Under 18s will get a phone call and a parent or guardian will be asked to give permission for the call to continue,
  • You will be told to begin to self-isolate for 14 days from your last contact with the person who has test positive. You must do this even if you don’t feel unwell because you may have been infected and could infect other people.
  • Other members of your household don’t need to self-isolate if you have not shown any symptoms – but take extra care to follow the guidance on social distancing and handwashing and avoid contact at home.
  • If you do develop symptoms you must follow the steps detailed in the point above – self-isolate, order a test and your household will also need to self-isolate for 14 days. Even if this test comes back negative you must still complete your 14 day isolation as the virus may not be detectable yet – but you could unknowingly be spreading the virus.

How will this work to stop infection outbreaks in Newcastle?

People with COVID-19 symptoms, others in their household and people they have encountered will go into self-isolation, preventing them from spreading the virus with the wider community. This will enable most people to return to a more normal way of life. However, it only works if everybody who is required to self-isolate does so for the necessary length of time.

How do I know the person claiming to be contact tracing is genuine?

NHS contract tracers will first speak to you about your positive diagnosis to ensure you understand the self-isolation guidance and know what is being asked of yourself and others in your household.

You will then be asked about the places you have been and the people you have spent a significant amount of time with. They are particularly interested in people you have been near for periods of 15 minutes or more.

They will never ask you to make any form of payment, provide bank details, give any password or PIN number, request you download something, or ask you to call a premium rate phone number.

What testing facilities are available in Newcastle?

In Newcastle, you can get tested at:

  • the drive-through site at Newcastle Great Park – referred to as an ‘RTS’ (Regional Testing Site)
  • the walk-in site, currently in Walker / Byker
  • home testing kits sent out to those unable to access drive-through or walking options
  • tests sent to, and collected from, care homes as part of the government’s commitment that everyone in a care home should be tested once
  • tests undertaken by Mobile Testing Units (MTUs)

To book a test call 119 or visit the NHS website here.

Will I only have to self-isolate once?

Not necessarily. You will only be asked to self-isolate because of a positive result once. But you may be asked to self-isolate several times because of close contact with a confirmed case.

I have done an anti-body test and it confirmed I have already had the virus – do I still need to self isolate?

The Government said this will make no difference and you must follow the instructions around self-isolation. The science remains unclear about how much immunity you get from having Covid-19.

Key updates

Press release dated 29/06/2020 on publishing of Newcastle COVID Control plan.

Please note that this page remains in development and more detailed plans concerning specific areas will be available as soon as possible.

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