The local outbreak plans build on existing health protection plans and put in place measures to identify and contain outbreaks of COVID-19, to reduce the spread of infection and save lives.
These plans will be essential in helping Warrington to ensure an effective, coordinated approach to tackling any new outbreaks of the virus. In the event of an outbreak, the plans developed by the council will be enacted. The plans provide the framework to help to manage any local lockdown restrictions that might be necessary, prevent the spread of the virus, and provide reassurance and guidance to partners.
What is an outbreak?
An outbreak is defined as two or more positive cases of COVID-19 in the same setting, which arise in the same 14 day period. Symptoms include:
- A new, continuous cough
- A high temperature
- A loss of, or change in, normal taste and/or smell
The plans are central to NHS Test, Trace, Contain and Engage
The outbreak control plans play a pivotal role as rules around social distancing and lockdown restrictions are eased. Alongside the national NHS Test and Trace programme, the plans will ensure outbreaks are identified quickly, control measures are put in place and further spread of the virus is minimised. This next important phase in the national strategy gives further responsibility to councils and their partners in helping play a proactive role in dealing with coronavirus in local communities.
Warrington Borough Council’s Director of Public Health, Eileen O’Meara, said: “As we continue to manage the reduction in spread of coronavirus, the outbreak control plans we have published signify an important ‘next step’ in controlling the virus as far as possible in our communities.
“Our plans are just one part in a huge, system-wide approach to containing the virus. We all have a responsibility in managing the virus as we move forward. It is crucial that we continue to follow the national guidance, get tested if symptomatic, know how to book a test and understand why we need to self-isolate if we’re told to do so by a contact tracer, even if we aren’t displaying symptoms.
“These initial safeguards will help to control the spread of the virus, but our comprehensive plans are in place so that we are also prepared for the possibility of local outbreaks. The plans include guidance on how settings – including schools and care homes - should control infections and details what you should do if you work or normally go to a setting which appears to have an outbreak.”
The council’s published plans are:
- Ten aspects for system prevention: this document outlines our approach to preventing the spread of the virus and how to prepare for COVID-19 outbreaks across the system
- COVID-19 outbreak plan for complex settings: this is the overarching plan, which provides guidance for managing an outbreak in a specific setting.
- COVID-19 outbreak plan for educational establishments: this plan provides specific guidance for managing an outbreak in schools and other educational and childcare settings
- COVID-19 outbreak plan for care homes: this plan provides the guidance for preventing and responding to outbreaks in our care homes
Cabinet member responsible for Public Health, Cllr Maureen McLaughlin, said: “The outbreak plans we have published will be vital in ensuring we have a coordinated response, in partnership with our key stakeholders like Public Health England, Warrington Hospital, Warrington and Halton CCG and our schools and other settings.
“We know that lockdown restrictions are easing, we know that more shops and schools are reopening, but we really need to keep following the national guidance. This virus hasn’t disappeared, we are still living with it, and our outbreak plans are in place to mitigate the transmission of COVID-19, which will protect lives and livelihoods.
“Our plans are comprehensive and detail extensively how we will respond to outbreaks. I want to make clear that in the event of an outbreak, we will work with affected groups to provide support and will communicate very clearly with our partners to help them understand why local outbreak management is so important, and how they can help.
“This phase of responding to the pandemic is vital in ensuring we can continue to drive down the transmission of the virus. The plans we have published will support our aim of containing outbreaks but we also need your full support to help keep Warrington as secure as possible from outbreaks. We need our residents to continue to follow the clear guidance around social distancing and hand and respiratory hygiene, as these measure are the most effective in minimising spread of the virus and preventing outbreaks.
“If you have symptoms, you need to follow the Stay at Home guidance and arrange to get tested. If your test is positive, you will become part of the NHS Test and Trace response and should follow the advice provided. It’s all about people protecting people – and as one big community in Warrington we can minimise the spread of infection and, ultimately, save lives.”
For more information about the council’s prevention plans, the NHS Test and Trace service and how you can get tested for coronavirus, please visit the test and trace page of the council website.