Local lockdowns: Council plans to combat future coronavirus outbreaks revealed

Although many social distancing and safety measures remain in place, there are concerns that there c

Although many social distancing and safety measures remain in place, there are concerns that there could be localised outbreaks of coronavirus. Picture: Jonathan Brady/PA - Credit: PA

The ways east London’s councils will try to fight a Leicester-style coronavirus outbreak have been revealed, warning they needed more information on how any local lockdown would work as well as better trace and test capacity.

The plans show how public health chiefs and councils will work together to try and stop a surge in local cases spiralling out of control.

Many of the blueprints say “local lockdowns” could be imposed if there are a rise in cases and highlighted existing powers which could be used to combat a coronavirus outbreak.

In most boroughs action plans have been created for outbreaks in schools, care homes, workplaces, student accommodation, homeless hostels, sheltered housing and community clusters, including religious communities.

But some plans also warn that there is a lack of detailed information from the government on how local lockdowns, if other measures have failed to stop an outbreak, should be introduced.

They also say more needs to be done to increase confidence in the NHS Test and Trace service, launched at the end of May, which aims to ensure that people with coronavirus symptoms can get tested and people who have come into close contact with the infected are notified.

They called for more detailed, up-to-date information on new cases in their area to swiftly identify outbreaks and asked for more funding to tackle the epidemic.

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Newham Council’s plan states: “[Test and Trace] is a vital step in preventing the spread of coronavirus and a possible second wave; but, for it to work a high level of understanding, trust, engagement and compliance is crucial.

“However, we know in Newham that many of our residents may struggle for a range of reasons to be served effectively by the national system. Our plan is about tailoring the national approach to work for a Newham context and to augment it in ways we think necessary for our community.”

Barking and Dagenham Council added: “Pan-London comms group has completed research on test and trace attitudes in London. Only 44 per cent of people would know how to get a test (less amongst over 65s and BAME groups) 35pc know little or nothing about test and trace, higher amongst younger and BAME groups.”

Town halls in London are also planning “surge capacity” to deal with a spike in cases and to call in help from neighbouring boroughs under “mutual aid” arrangements if needed.

Barking and Dagenham warned: “From September onwards into the winter months we will be managing the usual winter pressures, other communicable diseases along with Covid-19. We have been advised that no modelling of demand has been done.

“Therefore, our services will have to flex to meet the peaks and dips in demand over the next 10 months. The Covid-19 Health Protection Board will need to consider where additional surge resourcing will be needed across the council as part of the business continuity planning process.”