Oxfordshire to launch its own contact tracing system

first_imgThe campaign group Oxfordshire Keep Our NHS Public told Cherwell: “All local authorities should have been involved from the outset; international evidence shows the keys are Directors of Public Health, their departments, the NHS infectious disease departments and their labs, and environmental health – all working with the voluntary sector as locally as possible.” The county’s director of public health, Ansaf Azhar, made the announcement at a meeting of the joint health overview and scrutiny committee last Wednesday. He also gave notice that he was looking into securing testing locally for key workers, and that work had been done to ensure university sites were COVID-secure. Blackburn with Darwen council, in Lancashire, began local contact-tracing in early August. The lead officer, Paul Fleming, said that local systems “complement the national system, because we have the local knowledge of the area and the ability to send officers round to people’s addresses”. After one week, according to the council’s director of public health, 90% of the cases the national system could not reach had been contacted. Figures released on Friday revealed that almost one in five positive cases in Oxfordshire went unreached by the national contact-tracing system and only 62% of positive case’s close contacts could be identified, a figure below the national average. They warned that local contact tracing must work in tandem with the University’s testing scheme, saying: “Contact tracing will inevitably straddle both [the local and University context]. What would be really helpful is if both systems were intermingled, and testing stations, and tracers, and telephone numbers, were shared.” Graphics by Bee Boileaucenter_img Peterborough has also launched a local service. Its director of public health, Dr Liz Robin, said: “National test and trace isn’t always able to [reach people] fast enough – and some people don’t respond to the national text and telephone system – so we’ve asked Public Health England to let us take this on locally, as we know our communities best.” Image credit: Mufid Majnun/ Unsplash On the 10th August, the government announced all local authorities would be offered dedicated ring-fenced teams of contact tracers, after the national contact tracing scheme faced criticism from local authority leaders for its lack of local focus. Andy Burnham – mayor of Greater Manchester – told The Guardian in May that the government “could and should” have involved local authorities more with contact-tracing. Oxfordshire hopes to launch its own contact-tracing system by mid-October, joining a host of other local authorities who have also implemented regional tracing networks.last_img read more