West Yorkshire council becomes second to set up local contact-tracing service

5 August 2020, 16:43

A pedestrian walks past a screen on a bus stop displaying a NHS notice on test and trace on Oxford Street
A pedestrian walks past a screen on a bus stop displaying a NHS notice on test and trace on Oxford Street. Picture: PA

By Megan White

A West Yorkshire council which covers one of the areas subject to a local lockdown has become the second local authority to set up a local contact-tracing service.

Calderdale Council, which covers Halifax and surrounding areas, is the second authority to make the move after Blackburn and Darwen said it was setting up a locally-focused system to utilise community knowledge.

It is one of three areas of West Yorkshire which were made subject new measures which banned people from different households meeting in a private home or garden from midnight on July 31.

Council leader Tim Swift said: "Testing is a really important first line of defence in controlling the spread of Covid-19 and we're working hard to make it easier for more people to get tested in Calderdale.

"We have doubled our local testing in the last week, focusing on areas with the highest infection rates.

"We're working together with other local organisations, including the voluntary sector, to encourage people across our communities to get tested if they have symptoms."

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Mr Swift said: "We are also working with community groups and Public Health England to develop a local contact-tracing service, which will build on the national system and we expect to be up and running very soon.

"This will mean we can use our knowledge of local communities to reach more people, and ensure that residents have the support they need to self-isolate if required."

Calderdale, Kirklees and Bradford were brought under the new rules along with the whole of Greater Manchester and councils in East Lancashire.

This week's latest figures of the rolling seven-day rate of new cases of Covid-19 showed Calderdale up from 24.3 to 39.5 cases per 100,000 people, with 83 new positives.

Blackburn with Darwen is the authority with the highest rate with 77.9 per 100,000 in the seven days to July 31.

It has been reported that Kirklees and Bradford are also looking at developing their own locally based contact tracing service.