Coronavirus (COVID-19) Image by Philip Steury AdobeStock_332281171.jpg

Residents of Bedford and Milton Keynes who test positive for COVID-19 are now being contacted by Central Bedfordshire Council’s contact tracing hub following a pilot project set up in March.

Local contact tracing teams had been in place for the three councils since August 2020, but the teams were separate and most cases were initially contacted by the national test and trace team.

Only those who weren’t reached nationally were then picked up by the local contact tracing teams.

The new structure means there is now a single Contact Tracing Hub run by CBC on behalf of the three local authorities.

Vicky Head, director of public health for Bedford, Central Bedfordshire, and Milton Keynes, said:

“Contact tracing is a key element of reducing transmission of COVID-19 and this move allows the local team to offer more local support and ensure residents can self-isolate safely during this pandemic

“Local Test and Trace allows us to find people who have the virus and those they may have infected much more quickly. We know our area and our residents best, which means we can react faster and effectively so we can save lives.

“Defeating COVID-19 involves everyone working together at local and national level. The test and trace service is vital to reducing the spread of COVID-19.”

All local positive COVID-19 cases are directed straight to CBC’s Contact Tracing Hub, instead of the national test and trace teams.

CBC said that with the previous test and trace process it could take up to three days for the local team to receive cases. But now the team is alerted within an hour.

Staff at the Hub call each positive case and complete the Test and Trace questionnaire to identify their close contacts, understand where they may have been infected and ensure they receive all the necessary support to self-isolate.

In the first month (22 May to 21 June) the Hub handled 2,204 cases and contacted 2,159 cases. According to latest performance data the service has been able to reach 98 per cent of cases.

CBC said that prior to the service going to local contact teams, the national team had a completion rate of 64 per cent.

Councillor Tracey Stock, executive member for health and wellbeing and communities at Central Bedfordshire Council, said:

“We were delighted to launch this pilot scheme and are pleased it has been so successful that we can now provide it as a shared service with Milton Keynes and Bedford.

“I would like to thank all the staff in the test and trace team for their hard work helping us to beat the spread of infection.”