People across North East Lincolnshire have been urged to back a plan setting out how the area will continue to tackle the threat of COVID-19.
A special meeting of North East Lincolnshire Council’s Cabinet last night (29 June) approved the area’s Outbreak Control Plan, drawn up by the authority, the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and partners in the wider local health and social care system who have been working together since COVID-19 first became a threat.
While the area currently has the third lowest rate of cases in England, with the number of cases emerging in care homes and the number of deaths the lowest in England, and as the local economy begins to open up, the Council is working closely with businesses to keep consumers safe and protect this good position.
The Council has been allocated £1 million to support COVID-19 outbreak management with the development and delivery of the North East Lincolnshire Outbreak Control Plan, setting out how the Council will work with local partners and the NHS Test and Trace service to respond swiftly to contain and control any local outbreaks of the virus. This will enable a gradual return to normal life in a safe way that protects the NHS and social care.
Council Leader Philip Jackson said as well as working to get the local economy restarted safely, the Council had an important public health role in ensuring the virus is brought under control so life can continue to return to normal.
He added: “But we and other partners can’t do this alone – we need to all our communities and residents to keep working work together, as they’ve already done so well so far.
“Until we get a vaccine for COVID-19, we’re all having to learn to live with the virus and supporting this plan gives us the best possible chance of living as normal lives as possible under the circumstances and preventing further outbreaks.”
The council said that as COVID-19 is a new virus and remains highly contagious, the public needs to remain cautious as we move out of lockdown. There are a number of risks that could see infections in the community increase again. For example, the area’s low infection rates mean most local people have not been exposed to the virus already, so the impact of indoor businesses reopening as well as increasing numbers of visitors from outside the area is not yet certain.
The Council acknowledged that it has a central role in the identification and management of any local outbreaks as they arise. The Outbreak Control Plan sets out measures such as potential temporary closure of individual locations to enable deep cleaning, rapid deployment of mobile testing units, and targeted communications in specific settings, communities or localities.
Cllr Jackson said the Outbreak Control Plan and those of every council in the UK will all have a role to play in trying to prevent a potential second wave of COVID-19 later in the year, which could coincide with seasonal flu and make dealing with future outbreaks of the virus more difficult.
He explained: “ As we continue to take the first, tentative steps back into normal life, it’s vital that everything is done to keep the virus out of communities, to prevent people becoming ill and to prevent more people from dying.
“We all want to see restrictions continue to be eased, but should infection rates rise again, we face exactly the opposite with tighter restrictions and a possible return to the lockdown nobody wants to see.
“That’s why I would continue to urge the overwhelming majority of people, who are acting in the very best interests of their own communities and caring about the safety of others, to continue to do the right thing over the coming weeks and months.”