Tameside to be Greater Manchester’s pilot for test and trace programme

Reporter: Charlotte Green
Date published: 27 May 2020

Tameside has been chosen as Greater Manchester’s pilot borough for the government’s ‘test and trace’ programme to tackle outbreaks of coronavirus.

The government has announced it is to distribute £300 million in funding for local authorities in England to support the launch of the service.

Housing secretary Robert Jenrick said the programme, which will involve teams of contact tracers and an NHS tracking app, will be launched next week.

Each local authority will be given funding to develop ‘tailored outbreak control plans’, led by council leaders and directors of public health, working with NHS trusts and other partners.

Work on the plans, which the government says is to start ‘immediately’ will focus on identifying and containing potential outbreaks of the virus in locations such as workplaces, housing complexes, care homes and schools.

Speaking at the borough’s first virtual meeting of the full council, leader Brenda Warrington said that recovery from the pandemic will be a ‘part of life’ for all residents and businesses.

As part of the test and trace programme, data on the virus’s spread will be shared with local authorities through the Joint Biosecurity Centre to inform local outbreak planning.

This means that teams can understand how the virus is moving, and can work with national government where necessary to access the testing and tracing capabilities of the new service.

Town halls also need to ensure they have enough testing capacity, and it is ‘deployed effectively to high-risk locations’.

Initially 11 local authorities across England will share ‘best practice’ on how the test and trace programme is working.

Minister for Patient Safety Nadine Dorries, said that town halls are ‘vital’ in the effort to contain COVID-19.

“The pandemic requires a national effort but that will only be effective as a result of local authorities, working hand in hand with Public Health England and contact tracers to focus on the containment of local outbreaks, in order to control the transmission and the spread of the virus,” she added.

But for contact tracing to be effective, bosses say that people must continue to follow health guidelines and stay at home if they have symptoms of the virus.

Oldham Council leader Sean Fielding had earlier said our borough was looking to be one of the first to implement the government's "Track and Trace" initiative.

Do you have a story for us? Want to tell us about something going on in and around Oldham? Let us know by emailing news@oldham-chronicle.co.uk , calling our Oldham-based newsroom on 0161 633 2121 , tweeting us @oldhamchronicle or messaging us through our Facebook page. All contact will be treated in confidence.