Sunderland's own Covid contact tracing team records 97% hit rate as cases are called within minutes

Wearsiders testing positive for coronavirus could get a call just an hour after their details enter the NHS Test and Trace system by a city team which has recorded a 97% success rate in its first week.

By Fiona Thompson
Tuesday, 30th March 2021, 3:55 pm
Updated Tuesday, 30th March 2021, 4:14 pm

The Local-0 programme builds on Sunderland City Council’s Local Contact Tracing programme launched in January and has resulted in it reaching more people who have tested positive with Covid-19 across the city.

While local Contact Tracing involves council teams trying to contact people who the national Test and Trace team have been unable to contact within 32 hours, under Local-0 the council is contacting people after one hour.

The council says this will reduce the spread of the virus and ensure residents get access to support as they self isolate at the earliest opportunity, from food and medication to financial help.

People who test positive for Covid-19 could be contacted by a new Sunderland-based team once their results have been entered into the NHS Test and Trace system.

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It hopes it will help it pinpoint clusters quicker, identifying connections between cases, with the council’s Covid marshals to be used in a more targeted way if hotspots are found.

In the week since it launched, the Local-0 scheme has managed to trace around 97% of the 235 cases referred.

Gerry Taylor, its Executive Director of Public Health and Integrated Commissioning, said: "The Local-0 approach enables us to contact cases one hour after they have been entered onto the national database system, so it really is a huge step forward in helping us to identify close contacts quickly, and increase the numbers of people who are able to self-isolate effectively.

Executive Director of Public Health and Integrated Commissioning Gerry Taylor.

"Our local call handlers can talk residents through the range of support available when they make that initial call so it really is better all round.”

The change came about after the National Test and Trace scheme approached the council following its success running Local Contact Tracing.

The council says the new system has been received positively so far, with people saying the initial text is helpful because it warns them who will ring while others have been impressed with how support has been offered so quickly.

Following recent changes, people who have to take time off work to look after a child under 15 who has to self isolate can apply for self isolation grants.

Anyone who needs support to can contact the council on 0800 234 6084.

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