Reducing the spread of COVID-19 in Calderdale
Debs Harkins, Calderdale Council’s Director of Public Health on the process of test, trace and isolate now working in Calderdale.
We now have testing available in multiple sites across the borough, and home test kits can also be arranged. We all have a role to play in encouraging anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 to get tested as soon as possible, and signposting people towards the NHS website is the best way to do that. For people who live in central Halifax, we also have a walk-to site at Asda and anyone with symptoms can get tested there too.
Calderdale is one of the first places in the country to launch a local contact tracing programme, working as a local extension of the national NHS Test and Trace programme.
The team of volunteers contacts people who have tested COVID-19 positive when the national team has been unable to reach them. This is to establish who their contacts have been and what settings and workplaces they might have visited while they were infectious. If they can’t get hold of people on the phone, they will visit them at home. We bring the added advantage of using local knowledge and experience to build trust in the system and ensure that NHS Test and Trace reaches as many people in Calderdale as possible.
I want to take this opportunity to say a massive thank you to our contact tracers. We’ve established a local system really quickly and while lots of people have put a lot of work in behind the scenes, we can’t do this without people volunteering to do the hard work of contact tracing.
As a council, we have a critical role to play in supporting people to isolate. Enabling people with a positive COVID-19 test to isolate for 10 days and their contacts to isolate for 14 days is key to controlling the spread of infection. Our contact tracers will signpost people to the support that is available should they need it – in much the same way that we supported people who were shielding earlier in the pandemic. In addition, we can all do our bit as individuals to support people we know who might be struggling to isolate. All the details are on the Council’s website.
Test, trace and isolate is one of the most important things we can do to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in Calderdale – alongside all the other measures we are taking and which many of you are involved in. Our long-term goal of course is to be COVID-free – but in the shorter term we’re doing everything we can to get us to a point where the additional local restrictions can be lifted. Effective and timely testing, tracing and supported isolation are essential to that.