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The effectiveness of the LOMP requires financial resource and capability as well as staff skills and expertise.

Nationally, £300million has been allocated for local authorities to support the additional public health capacity required to develop and implement the plans to mitigate against and manage local coronavirus outbreaks.

Devon County Council’s share of the Local Authority Test and Trace Service Support Grant Determination is £2,618,508.

The Department of Health and Social Care has also created a Contain Outbreak Management Fund to support proactive containment and intervention measures. This funding is based on a one-off payment of £1 per head of population for local authorities in alert level medium, £3 for high and £8 for very high.

With the introduction of the national lockdown, all local authorities received £4 per head of population per month.

While the response to a local outbreak needs to be led by public health, the skills and expertise within the local system are required to effectively manage outbreaks, working as a ‘system within the local system’.

Public health within the County Council and Public Health England do not have the capacity, skills or expertise alone.

Resources and input will be needed from organisations and professional groups, such as (amongst others):

  • environmental health officers
  • infection prevention and control
  • health and social care
  • the NHS
  • communications officers
  • data and intelligence analysts
  • health and safety officers

The additional Contain Outbreak Management Fund resources have been allocated to:

  • increased infection prevention and control capability
  • local contact tracing partnership
  • Community Testing Programme
  • vaccination delivery within vulnerable groups
  • communication and engagement
  • support for vulnerable groups

There are also additional resources to support clinically extremely vulnerable people who have been advised to shield and those people who are instructed to self-isolate.

All local authorities within Devon working with the community and voluntary sector have played a key role in enabling people to successfully shield and stay at home during the pandemic.

This has included helping people to access shopping, prescriptions, financial support and other help and advice, including emotional health and wellbeing.

Looking ahead, a broader self-isolation support framework will be developed for Devon. The work will involve agreeing and implementing systems of support with our partners to ensure we have an effective approach that meets the needs of those clinically extremely vulnerable people who may need to continue to shield, those people who have been instructed to isolate and those people who are not currently engaging with testing and isolation requirements.

The Strategic Co-ordinating Group (SCG) of the Local Resilience Forum has the responsibility to agree and co-ordinate strategic actions by Category 1 and 2 responders for the purposes of the Civil Contingencies Act in managing demand on systems, infrastructures and services and protecting human life and welfare.

A Tactical Coordination Group (TCG), working to the objectives set by the SCG, has crucial capabilities in aligning and deploying the capabilities of a range of agencies at local level in supporting the prevention and control of transmission of COVID-19.

Activation of a SCG and TCG will require a declaration of a major incident in accordance with Operation Link.

Exit from lockdown and living safely with COVID-19

While the government’s roadmap describes a number of steps to move out of lockdown it is clear that we will not have zero COVID-19 and we will have to learn to live with COVID-19, and variants of COVID-19, for many months to come.

It is highly likely that even if we have low rates, we will continue to see isolated cases and the occasional outbreaks. Living safely with COVID-19 will require significant effort and actions from everyone.

The crucial elements to help us live safely with COVID are described in the plan but in summary, it requires us to work together to:

  • reduce and keep the virus transmission as low as possible
  • ensure we have a high-quality national and local surveillance system in place to monitor the transmission and identify variance emergence as well as identify local cases and outbreaks as quickly as possible
  • have a comprehensive and effective national and local test, trace, and isolation programme
  • have an effective vaccination programme to protect the most vulnerable from serious illness

In order to successfully exit lockdown and live safely with COVID-19, without the need for further restrictions or national lockdowns, will require a cautious approach, with the data and intelligence driving the lifting of restrictions.

It is critical in order to keep COVID-19 rates as low as possible that we will all need to continue with the public health measures for the months ahead, namely, social distancing, wearing a face-covering in indoor public places and washing our hands regularly.