As part of its concerted efforts to drive down community infections – which sees the city still with above average infection rates and on the Government’s watch list as an area of concern – the city council will be delivering a locally enhanced contact tracing service, working closely with NHS Test and Trace.
From Wednesday, August 12, Peterborough City Council Environmental Health Officers and Regulatory Officers, who have undergone special training in contact tracing will be following up on people who have tested positive for Covid-19, but who haven’t responded to a call or email from the national service, and getting details about their close contacts.
Council officers will initially make contact by phone, text or email asking people to call a local number – which earlier experiences in contacting shielded people, has been found to be more effective than a contact from a national number.
But if this fails, the officers, who will all carry Peterborough City Council identification – will make house to house visits to reach those people who have tested positive. They will be given advice on how they can stay isolated to break the chain of infection, and prevent it spreading to their household contacts. They will also be asked to share details of others they have been in contact with.
Anyone who is concerned by being contacted can call the council or local community hub to check the identity of the tracer on 01733 747474.
"We have acted extremely quickly as a city council to put measures in place to try and bring down rates of infection," said Dr Liz Robin, Peterborough City Council’s Director of Public Health.
"This has included a tremendous effort by local leaders to explain the issues to our diverse communities, producing extra information to help people understand how they can protect themselves and others, the siting of mobile testing units in key parts of the city to make getting a test easier, and working closely with employers to help them make their businesses Covid-secure.
"But we know the quicker we can reach people who’ve tested positive and get them to isolate – and get them to share details of who they’ve been in contact with – the quicker we can break the chain of infection. National test and trace isn’t always able to do this fast enough – and some people don’t respond to the national text and telephone system – so we’ve asked Public Health England to let us take this on locally, as we know our communities best."
The council has also worked hard through its community hub to put in place support for those who need to isolate, if they don’t have friends or family who can help them, and this information will be given to all those who are contacted.
"No one should be prevented from isolating and breaking the chain of infection because of practical considerations,” said Councillor Wayne Fitzgerald, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health. "There is a hardship fund to help those not able to work, and if you don’t have friends and family to help, we will be able to put in place arrangements to help you get food and medicine without leaving home - or even walk your dog. We’ll also help you with financial issues if you’re not able to work while self-isolating.
"The most important thing is that we keep caring for Peterborough, we will work with local people to deliver this pilot to make sure that we can stamp out infections and get our City COVID-free."
No one contacted will ever be asked for money or their bank details - as the purpose is to let them know how to isolate and get support if they need it. Tests for Covid-19, whether at a mobile testing unit, official drive through centres at the Showground or elsewhere, or ordered online or by phone are always entirely free.