LOCAL TEST AND TRACE SERVICE TO LAUNCH

Wakefield and Kirklees councils have joined forces to provide a local test and trace service. This locally enhanced contact tracing service will roll out across the local authority areas from 30 November.

Working closely with NHS Test and Trace and fully integrated with the national service, the Wakefield and Kirklees Local Contact Tracing Service has been developed to provide further support. Drawing on local community knowledge, the aim is to make contact with hard to reach positive cases to identify their close contacts where the NHS service has been unsuccessful.

Contact Tracing Officers who have undergone specialist training will follow up with people yet to respond to NHS Test and Trace, via text or phone, initially calling them from a local number.

People who have tested positive will be given advice on how they can isolate, the importance of doing so and where they can access support. Positive cases will also be asked to share details of others they may have been in close contact with.

Anyone who has symptoms of COVID-19, a persistent cough, loss of taste or smell, is urged to get a test. All NHS testing for COVID-19 is free.

Cllr Denise Jeffery, Leader of Wakefield Council, said: “In recent weeks we have seen cases of COVID-19 continue to rise in our district and at this critical time, we must all work together to help reduce the spread of the virus and save lives.

“We are launching this new service with Kirklees Council to help to strengthen the existing NHS tracing service, and help break the chain of infection.

“The new service is here to support residents and communities in our districts as we all continue to tackle the virus.”

As part of this approach, contact tracers advise people who have tested positive and their contacts about how to get practical support, if it is difficult for them to self-isolate.

With cases of COVID-19 having risen in our district in recent weeks, people are urged to take the right actions and help save lives.

Rachel Spencer-Henshall, Director of Public Health at Kirklees Council and Anna Hartley, Director of Public Health at Wakefield Council said:

“This is a concentrated effort by both councils to drive down infections with welcome support from Public Health England.

“Whilst there has and continues to be sustained efforts across both local authorities to help our communities protect themselves and others, both Kirklees and Wakefield still have above average infection rates which are continuing to rise. This new service will further support the work we are doing to tackle infection rates on a local level.

“Isolation plays a key part in breaking the chain of infection, the quicker we can reach those who’ve tested positive and their contacts through the introduction of this service - the quicker we can break the chain.

“Additionally, we should all continue with the basic measures - social distancing from those outside your household, wearing a face covering, washing your hands regularly and isolating and testing when you have symptoms - as they remain very important.

“These simple actions make a difference wherever you live. Together they help to contain and prevent further spread of COVID-19, significantly reduce your chances of being infected or infecting someone else and ultimately help to bring our rates back down.”

For residents whose native language is not English, an interpretation service is available.

The new tracing service operates every day from 1pm to 8pm. For information on community support available and to request a visit www.wakefield.gov.uk/coronavirus

If anyone has any concerns about the call or identity of a contact tracer, verification can be gained by calling the Contact Tracing Team on 01924 482119. Anyone who is contacted will never be asked for money or bank details for any reason.