As part of the next phase of the UK’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Isle of Wight Council (IWC) is required to produce and implement a Local Outbreak Control Plan. The plan details how the IWC and its partners will prevent and respond to further outbreaks and incidents of COVID-19 infection on the Isle of Wight.
This summary covers the key aspects of our Local Outbreak Control Plan.
We want Isle of Wight residents to be able to live healthy and productive lives. But we need to achieve this in a way that is safe, protects our health and care services and enables the local economy to restart and thrive as we continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
We aim to:
- Reduce the transmission of COVID-19, protecting all, especially those who are most vulnerable, and preventing increased demand on our healthcare services.
- Provide consistent advice to places and communities to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
- Oversee the NHS test and trace programme on the Isle of Wight and coordinate testing across the Island.
- Work together with partners, in a coordinated way, to support communities across the Island to reduce the spread of infection.
What is in the plan
The main objective in managing an outbreak is to protect the public’s health. In the situation of a COVID-19 outbreak, this will mean taking action to ensure those infected self-isolate, contacts are traced, and measures are implemented to stop further spread or recurrence of the virus. We have followed government guidance, and our Local Outbreak Control plan has a number of key components, they are:
Care Homes and Schools
Measures have already been put in place in care homes and schools to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but we need to be ready for any potential outbreaks. We will continue to monitor what is happening locally, so that we can quickly identify actions needed to manage an outbreak and protect lives. To fully capture the range of settings where special consideration may be required around the provision of care to adults and children, we have included social care settings within the scope of the Plan.
High risk places, locations, communities and healthcare settings
Working with the NHS, we have identified locations and communities that may be at greater risk from COVID-19 outbreaks. These include a wide range of places such as transport hubs, tourist venues and higher risk workplaces. We explain how we will tackle any outbreaks within these locations and who else will be required to help us.
Local testing capacity
We aim to ensure testing can be accessed easily by all our residents. On the Isle of Wight, testing for residents with COVID-19 symptoms is provided via a number of mechanisms, including through the provision of a satellite testing centre at Medina Leisure Centre, access to home testing kits via the NHS website, as well as other local arrangements. We describe how local testing will be used to ensure a swift response is provided to any suspected cases or outbreaks of COVID-19.
For those places which have been identified as higher risk we have also summarised how they can access testing for their staff, visitors, and residents.
Contact tracing in complex settings
Contact tracing is a fundamental part of the IWC COVID-19 Prevention, Incident and Outbreak Control Plan. When a person tests positive for COVID-19, they are contacted to gather details of places they have visited and people with whom they have been in contact. Those who are identified as a ‘close contact’ are then contacted and given advice on what they should do e.g. self-isolate. Contract tracing will usually be carried out by the NHS Test and Trace service. However, for more complex local situations Public Health England and the IWC’s Public Health and Environmental Health teams may become involved as described within this Plan.
It is anticipated that most people who need to will be able to self-isolate for the maximum two-week period without any support. However, we know that some residents will need extra help to support them while they self-isolate. Through its helpline and its joint working with community groups and hubs, the IWC will continue to provide support to Island residents when this is required.
Using data to help our response
To ensure we can act quickly and effectively, we will need to have an ‘early warning’ system in place to identify potential COVID-19 outbreaks. This relies on having good local intelligence and data and we are working with the national Joint Biosecurity Centre to ensure we have effective health surveillance and data collection to support this. How we will manage and comply with data protection, data sharing and data security requirements, whilst dealing with this emergency, is also covered in the plan.
Who is responsible for delivering the plan
The IWC COVID-19 Health Protection Board
Under the leadership of the Director of Public Health, the IWC COVID-19 Health Protection Board will be responsible for the delivery of the Plan. Representatives from the IWC and the NHS will be also be members of this Board. To date this partnership has already been instrumental in managing the local response to the pandemic. By continuing to work together through this Board, we will ensure the needs of Isle of Wight residents are met and that the we reduce the spread of infection and save lives.
Role of your Isle of Wight Councillors
We have established the IWC COVID-19 Engagement Board to ensure that your elected representatives are able to scrutinise local delivery of the Plan. They will also lead communication and engagement with the public.
Local Authority and Public Health Protection Powers
To date the Isle of Wight’s residents have acted responsibly to protect their own and other people’s health and we envisage that this will continue with everyone playing their part. However, occasionally voluntary measures are insufficient and legal powers are needed to deal with incidents or outbreaks that present a significant risk to human health.
Powers available to local authorities to protect the public’s health are detailed within the Plan. Any exercise of these powers will be in consultation with other organisations, such as Public Health England’s Health Protection Team, the NHS or the emergency services.
We believe the steps described in the Plan are critical to preventing the spread of any infection and ultimately saving lives. This will only be achieved through the coordinated efforts of a range of organisations across local and national government, the NHS, Public Health England, businesses and employers, voluntary organisations and other community partners, and most importantly with the support of Isle of Wight residents.