Published: Monday, 18th January 2021
A support service is being substantially expanded in the west of the county this week to help more residents affected by Covid-19 to isolate.
Previously only those who had tested positive for the virus would be contacted by teams from local councils with offers of support. Now the service will expand welfare checks and support to include some of those people who have been asked to isolate by NHS Test and Trace because they are contacts of positive Covid cases.
Led by Norfolk’s Public Health and Community Resilience county wide partnership working which includes the county’s seven city, district, borough councils, the service aims to further bolster efforts to control the virus by making sure people have support in place so they can stay at home and isolate safely. Plans are currently being made by other local councils to expand support in a similar way in the coming weeks.
This expansion builds upon a number of other initiatives already being run including comprehensive support packages for those who have tested positive for Covid-19, new targeted rapid testing in communities, and local contact tracing support for NHS Test and Trace.
Dr Louise Smith, Director of Norfolk’s Public Health, said: “We have for some time now been supporting those people who have tested positive for Covid-19 to isolate but we are now taking this one step further by offering co-ordinated and joined-up support to contacts of positive cases as well.
“This is yet another tool in our armoury to fight this disease.
“Controlling the spread by minimising every opportunity the virus has to transmit is key. We’ll be working closely with our local council colleagues to roll this new service out to every area of the county as soon as possible.”
A pilot to test the new service was run in Great Yarmouth recently. The first district to roll out the service was the Borough Council of King’s Lynn and West Norfolk on Friday 8 January and other areas of the county will pilot similar offers.
Cllr Stuart Dark, MBE, Borough Council of King’s Lynn and West Norfolk Cabinet Member for Environmental Services and Public Protection, said: “It is vitally important that people self-isolate and stay at home when told to do so by NHS Test and Trace as this helps stop the virus spreading to other people. We understand that people may find this difficult for lots of reasons and that’s why we’re making these calls. We will check you are able to get hold of food and medicine, and help set up support for you if you can’t, we can also point you in the direction of other support including financial assistance if needed.”
The service in the King’s Lynn and West Norfolk area runs seven days a week. Anyone identified by NHS Test and Trace as a contact will either receive a phone call or be visited by the new service with a wellbeing check and an offer of practical support, including access and signposting to hardship funds, food and help to get prescriptions and shopping. Teams will also be checking that those identified as being a contact of a positive Covid case know how to access testing if they develop symptoms and understand the current lockdown rules.
Chief Executive of the Borough Council of King’s Lynn and West Norfolk, Lorraine Gore, added: “We are redeploying some of our staff onto this service, as we believe it is a crucial tool to help stop the spread of the virus. We have received very positive feedback from those we have contacted so far and want to thank everyone who is doing the right thing and self-isolating in accordance with the guidance when they have been advised to do so.”
Norfolk’s other district, borough and city councils are currently working to establish the scope and working practice of their services.
Isolation is when you do not leave your home because you have or might have Covid-19. It means:
- do not go to work, school or public places – work from home if you can
- do not go on public transport or use taxis
- do not go out to get food and medicine – order it online or by phone, or ask someone to bring it to your home
- do not have visitors in your home, including friends and family – except for people providing essential care
- do not go out to exercise – exercise at home or in your garden, if you have one
If you have symptoms or have tested positive for coronavirus, you’ll usually need to isolate for at least 10 days.
You’ll usually need to isolate for 10 days if:
- you’ve been told to isolate by NHS Test and Trace
- someone you live with has symptoms or tests positive
- someone in your support bubble has symptoms or tested positive
Those who need support should contact Norfolk County Council on 0344 800 8020.