Locally Supported Contact Tracing Starts in Surrey
From today, Surrey County Council will be supporting the national Test and Trace programme by contacting people in the county who have tested positive for COVID-19, if the national programme has been unable to reach them.
Contact tracing is one of the most effective ways of slowing the spread of COVID-19. People who have tested positive are asked who they have been in close contact with while they’ve been infectious. Those close contacts are then alerted by the national Test and Trace programme and given the appropriate advice, so that they can self-isolate and avoid infecting those around them and in the wider community.
Surrey residents who test positive will be referred to the local contact tracing team if the national Test and Trace service is unable to contact them within 24 hours. Relevant data sharing agreements are in place between Public Health England and Surrey County Council to support the programme.
The overall target set by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) is for 80% of positive cases to be reached by contact tracers. Surrey already has a strong contact tracing completion rate of around 80% through the national Test and Trace service. The local service will ensure that even more people who have tested positive for COVID-19 are successfully contacted.
The local contact tracing team are part of Surrey County Council’s customer services team, and the team have all completed the national Test and Trace training programme. The team will be calling from a local number 01483 404 939 and once they make contact, will complete a contact tracing questionnaire and offer any relevant welfare support or financial assistance advice for the resident’s period of self-isolation.
For those who have been told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace and living on a low income, help is available from the government via the self-isolation payment scheme. Residents may be entitled to a payment of £500. The payment will be made by their local authority under the Test and Trace Support Payment scheme. More information on how to apply for the payment can be found on the Surrey County Council website.
Ruth Hutchinson, Surrey County Council’s Director of Public Health said,
“Contact tracing is a crucial part of our efforts to slow the spread of the virus. We’re fortunate that in Surrey the national Test and Trace service is already reaching around 80% of our residents who test positive. This is an opportunity for us to build on that national effort and use our local knowledge to reach even more people.”
“Our contact tracers have undergone the national Test and Trace training programme and are familiar with Surrey’s local areas and communities. Local contact tracing will ensure we reach as many residents as possible who have tested positive for COVID-19 – making sure they self-isolate and have the support, help and advice they need to keep themselves and everyone around them safe.”
Surrey County Council will be joining local authorities across the UK in local contact tracing, using knowledge of the county and localised data from Public Health Teams, and working in partnership with our district and borough councils to deliver the service.
Note to editors
Relevant data sharing agreements are in place between Public Health England and Surrey County Council to support the programme. Privacy notices for COVID-19, the Local Tracing Partnership and Customer Services have also been updated.
The NHS COVID-19 app has had over 10 million downloads since it launched in September. The app is a central part of the national NHS Test and Trace service and has been crucial to help stop the spread of the virus nationwide – one of the main functions of the app includes contact tracing and a self-isolation tracker. Residents contacted as part of the contact tracing service will be advised to follow the self-isolation period given by the contact tracing team which is used by NHS Test and Trace.
Trading standards has seen a significant increase in Coronavirus related scam complaints since the start of the pandemic. Surrey County Council will be working with Buckinghamshire and Surrey Trading Standards while the contact tracing programme is in place, to help raise awareness of the service among residents and share cold-calling scams advice and guidance. More on the Coronavirus scams advice webpage.