Coronavirus contact tracing service moves to next phase

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Thursday, August 6th, 2020 2:29pm

By Saul Cooke-Black - Local Democracy Reporter

The next phase of a multi-million pound tracing service to find people who have had contact with coronavirus cases in Gwent is being rolled out.

Gwent’s contact tracing service has been in place since the end of May using re-deployed staff from the five Gwent councils and Aneurin Bevan University Health Board (ABUHB).

The next phase will see a team of staff recruited and trained, with the service expected to employ 348 people (full-time equivalent) when it is at full capacity in October.

Plans are being made to ensure the service is ready for a possible second wave of coronavirus in the autumn.

The Welsh Government has allocated up to £9.6 million to support the service until March 31 next year.

“In a nutshell Gwent is building a multi-million pound new service in a matter of weeks,” a business case for the service says.

“At its peak it will be an operation of over 400+ employed staff fully supported by an integrated team from the partner organisations to make this a success.”

Key to the success of the service will be its ability to scale up quickly in the event community transmission of the virus increases.

Staff will be recruited on the basis they will be needed immediately or in the very near future, with others being held on reserve until needed.

The service is seen as a key local measure to providing data on positive Covid-19 cases, clusters and outbreaks of infection within communities as lockdown measures are eased.

“A successful and effective contact tracing service can make a significant contribution to the R rate, the resilience and sustainability of our vital services needed to support those in need, to aide economic recovery and to allow our residents to realise a new freedom in these uncertain times,” the business case adds.

“Its importance therefore cannot be overestimated or exaggerated. In a nutshell as local partners we cannot afford to get this wrong.”

Torfaen council is set to become the lead organisation for the management of the programme, while ABUHB will act as banker by receiving funds from Welsh Government and reimbursing each organisation.

Council leader, Cllr Anthony Hunt, is expected to approve the plans as an executive member decision on Tuesday, August 11.

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