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Detailed plan revealed to stop Lancashire going into local lockdown

Written by on July 1, 2020

A new detailed plan to prevent the spread of coronavirus and avoid local lockdowns in Lancashire has been revealed.

The plan, dubbed the Lancashire Covid-19 Outbreak Control Plan, has set out the county’s outbreak plan in line with the national NHS Test and Trace service, to allow lockdown restrictions to continue to be safely relaxed.

Strict rules have been set out for care homes and schools, as well as detail on where people can get tested for coronavirus across the county.

Under the plan, an outbreak in the county can be announced when there are just two cases of the virus in a 14 day period from people who live or work together.

In the case of an outbreak, immediate control measures should be brought in and investigations should begin within 24 hours.

This could see the closure of schools and businesses with those who attended them self-isolating for 14 days.

An outbreak will only be deemed ‘over’ by the Lancashire 12 COVID-19 Health Protection Board when the risk to public health subsides, there has been no further cases for 14 days since the the last positive test, and there has been a deep clean of the affected premises.

Inspections are also taking place in ‘high risk’ workplaces and issues surrounding the difficulty in contact tracing have also bee noted.

A spokesperson for Lancashire County Council, which released the plan this morning (July 1), said: “If two or more cases are reported in a particular place within 14 days of each other, a careful and timely assessment will be made to implement immediate actions to prevent further spread and by tracing the source of the infection to disrupt the ongoing transmission.

“By finding out quickly and effectively about cases, we can provide information and support to people, helping them to stay safe and protect themselves, as well as their family and friends.

“People who are asked to stay at home and ‘self-isolate’ will be offered support if they need it for shopping, accessing health care, getting medication and other help.”

Here are the main points in the Lancashire Covid-19 Outbreak Control Plan:

Care homes

File photo of an elderly man (Image: Joe Giddens/PA Wire)

To stop the spread of Covid-19 in Lancashire’s care settings, daily contact is being made with every care home to ‘gauge their operating confidence’.

Extended sessions on test and trace, infection control grant funding, and case studies on responding to coronavirus in care homes have also been delivered.

A six-step programme has now been created in case of a suspected outbreak.

This includes isolating people with the virus or suspected to have the virus, banning symptomatic staff and visitors, and potentially closing the site to new residents.

Schools

Children abide by a traffic light system for social distancing when washing their hands (Image: PA)

Schools across the Lancashire County Council area did not reopen as expected from June 1 due to safety risks, with the county council saying the arrangements for test and trace were not in place.

But while school reopening plans have now been extended to September 2020, schools can take back pupils if they are ‘Covid secure’.

For those reopening and who unfortunately record Covid-19 outbreaks, pupils or staff with the virus must be isolated and staff must be given adequate supply of PPE.

And in a similar scenario to the care sector, staff and pupils will be banned from school grounds if they are symptomatic.

Ultimately, schools could close again.

In regards to staff PPE, the plan says ‘the majority of staff in education, childcare and children’s settings will not require PPE beyond what they would normally need for their work’.

It adds that ‘PPE is only needed in a very small number of cases’ but that additional supply has been provided to schools.

The plan states that children under the age of five are being tested for the virus but that it is likely to be at home with self-swabbing kits.

Test and trace

There are 2,278 cases of coronavirus confirmed in the county
(Image: Michael Cooper/PA Wire)

From July 13, there will be six permanent coronavirus testing sites throughout Lancashire.

Run by the British Army, they will be in Lancaster, Blackpool (North and South), Chorley, Skelmersdale, Nelson and Rossendale.

There is also a regional testing centre at Preston‘s College in Fulwood, Preston.

The county council is working with financial services company Deloitte to introduce another regional testing centre in East Lancashire.

Home testing is also available via post or courier, as well as testing for vulnerable people including the homeless.

LancsLive has approached the county council for information on the exact locations of all these sites.

Contact tracing

Face masks in a bar

Detailed information on Lancashire’s contact tracing policy has been revealed.

This is how the county responds to informing people who may have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19.

Public Heath English has estimated that each symptomatic person will have up to 14 contacts, of which 12 can be contact traced on average.

Based on symptomatic cases only, in the Lancashire County Council area a total of 5,256 cases would require tracing.

PHE estimates that the county council will manage between 5% and 20% of cases, with the majority dealt with nationally.

This means the county council can expect to manage between 262 and 1,051 cases daily.

The plan reports there are ‘potentially complex settings’ when it comes to the likes of schools, care homes, specialist schools, homeless accommodation, police and fire stations, NHS settings, and domestic violence refuges.

‘Potentially complex cohorts’ include rough sleepers, faith communities, and asylum seekers.

There may be ‘potentially complex individuals and households’ including those with mental illness, substance abuse, rough sleepers, and victims of domestic abuse.

The plan says: ‘Providing direct support to those identified through contact tracing for whom adherence to self-isolation measures may be challenging, including links into locality hub pathways for shielded and vulnerable cohorts.’

Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities

As widely reported, data suggests that people from BAME groups may be more exposed to coronavirus, and therefore are more likely to be diagnosed with the virus.

The plan says that many pre-existing health conditions that increase the risk of ‘severe infection’, such as diabetes and obesity, are more common in BAME groups.

‘Many of these conditions are socioeconomically patterned,’ it says.

A Rapid Action Programme has since been established by the Lancashire Resilience Forum (LRF) BAME Inequalities Group, to identify the real-time Covid risk to BAME communities in Lancashire and their causes.

The hope is to then ‘mobilise a rapid collective response to identifying, managing and mitigating inequalities’.

Deprivation and inequalities

File photo dated 28/01/20 of a homeless man sleeping in the doorway of closed down branch of the Leeds Building Society on Kingsway, Holborn, London. More than a third of people who asked their local authority for help remained or became homeless due to a lack of affordable housing, a report suggests.

Lancashire County Council is the most deprived county council area in the country, with the plan explicitly reporting that those ‘facing the greatest deprivation are experiencing a higher risk of exposure to COVID-19 and existing poor health puts them at risk of more severe outcomes if they contract the virus’.

Of the area’s lower tier authorities, Burnley is the 11th most deprived local authority in England, with Hyndburn the 18th.

Both Preston and Pendle are in the most deprived 20% of council areas in the country.

‘We have established local districts based community hubs to support vulnerable people throughout the pandemic,’ the plan reports.

This includes when it comes to providing food, financial help, mental well-being and dog walking.

Homeless individuals and those dependent on drug and alcohol services are also more vulnerable to infection due to underlying conditions.

But on the whole, rehabilitation services have ‘largely remained open’, the plan says, ‘though with new measures such as isolation, reduced capacity and restricted entry’.

The LRF has focused a Homeless Cell on looking at housing and health related issues for those living rough.

High risk workplaces

A programme of ‘Covid-secure’ inspections are taking place across Lancashire, targeting ‘high risk’ workplaces and responding to complaints and request for advice.

Such workplaces include places with a high risk of close contact, increased Covid-related complaints, shared facilities, a likelihood or non-compliance and workplaces with a high proportion of BAME employees.

‘Enforcement action will be escalated where informal approaches do not bring about the required level of compliance,’ the plan says.

‘Dedicated communications’ is being circulated throughout these workplaces about how to stay Covid-secure and remind companies about track and trace policy.

The full Lancashire Covid-19 Outbreak Control Plan can be found here.