COVID-19. Reading Borough Council launches local contact tracing service

In response to increasing infection rates Reading Borough Council are working with Public Health England to provide local contact tracing – an enhanced service to the National Test and Trace system, to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

Reading Borough Council are working with other Berkshire authorities and the Director for Public Health Berkshire, as part of a pilot for the National Test and Trace service. Learnings from our local contact tracing set up will be used to support other local authorities to implement their local contact tracing services. The Reading Borough Council contact tracing service will be staffed by the Council’s Customer Service Team.

Local contact tracing increases the number people we can let know they have tested positive for COVID-19, which means they can take action to help stop the spread of the virus.

How does Test and Trace work?

When an individual tests positive for coronavirus, the NHS Test and Trace service makes contact with individuals; sending a text, or email alert, or phone call – with instructions of how to share details of people with whom they have had close, recent contact and places they have visited – to ensure appropriate advice is given to those who need it. If NHS Test and Trace are unable to make contact for 24 hours, the case is passed to the local authority to follow up.

Local data and community knowledge are used for a more targeted approach and local intelligence can be gathered and used to act quickly if a breakout occurs.

The Council’s team will run through a tracing questionnaire, signpost to support and help individuals identify who they’ve been in direct and close contact with. Direct contact is defined as; face to face contact, within one metre for one minute or longer. Close contact is defined as one to two metres distance for 15 minutes or more.

Councillor Graeme Hoskin, Reading Borough Council’s Lead Member for Health said: “Because the national Test and Trace system is failing to meet its targets this new Reading contact tracing service is vitally important to help combat the pandemic. Residents will be called by someone from Reading, who understands our area, our communities and the local support and advice available.”

“Importantly, we will be able to talk with residents directly affected so we can signpost them to any help they or their families may need.”

“I would encourage people who receive a call to pick up, it is vitally important to help us control the spread of the virus but also so we can provide an extra level of support to those affected.”

Reading Borough Council’s local contact tracing telephone service will operate seven days a week; Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm, Saturday and Sunday 10am to 1pm. Calls will come from a Reading 0118 number.

Data will be held in accordance with the Data Protection Act 2018, a data sharing agreement was signed between Public Health England and Reading Borough Council September 2020 by the Strategic Director of Public Health for Berkshire.

The service began today, Monday 26th October 2020.

Notes

If you have coronavirus symptoms:

1.      a high temperature

1.      a new, continuous cough

2.      a loss of, or change to, your sense of smell or taste

Book a test and self-isolate: online www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test or by calling 119.