Extra contact tracers being recruited in Portsmouth as Covid cases 'dramatically' rise

EXTRA contact tracers are being recruited in Portsmouth as the local team has ‘struggled’ to meet demand as Covid cases have increased in recent weeks.

Thursday, 8th July 2021, 4:55 am

The local service that started in November last year gets in touch with people who have tested positive for coronavirus and anyone they have come into contact with so they can self isolate.

Initially it was used as an addition to the national service, using council information to contact people who were proving difficult to find.

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Daniel Williams, the Portsmouth contact trace manager, working from home. Picture: Portsmouth City Council

In April it became solely responsible for reaching those with a positive test, however, with cases rising again this has changed.

Speaking at a health and wellbeing board meeting public health consultant, Dominique Le Touze, said: ‘In the last three weeks cases have risen dramatically.

‘We are a small team and we have struggled to meet the number of cases so we have passed some on to the national team. It still means we have reached high numbers of people who need to self-isolate.’

Between April and May the local service was reaching 92 per cent of cases.

Dan Williams, Portsmouth City Council's public health manager for Covid-19 contact tracing, said: ‘Following a surge in cases towards the end of June, we returned a small number of cases to the national Test and Trace call handlers - the ability to do this is within parameters of the partnership between the local and the national NHS Test and Trace services.

‘Currently we have 10 members of staff working a variety of hours to cover the workload, with extra capacity provided by volunteers from other parts of the council when needed. We are currently recruiting additional members of staff to meet the ongoing rise in infections.’

It comes as the most recent government data showed 428 new cases of Covid were recorded in Portsmouth in the week from June 24.

Mr Williams added: ‘As cases will undoubtedly rise in the coming weeks, we'd like to encourage anyone who tests positive for coronavirus to self-report their close contacts and recent activities as fully and as quickly as possible after receiving a link to self-report from NHS Test and Trace.’

Under the national contact trace system between June 17 and June 23, 138,559 (90 per cent) of contacts that were reached and told to self-isolate were reached within three days.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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