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Using data

Surveillance and intelligence

The need for local, timely and high-quality data and surveillance is crucial to helping the COVID-19 Health Protection Board and the Tactical Management Group take the necessary decisions and action to control the spread of the virus.

Boards across the south west will work to an agreed dataset which enables transparency and consistency for data analysis, interpretation and comparison purposes.

The Department of Health and Social Care National Testing Programme, NHS Digital and NHSX have developed an interactive data dashboard that will be available for local use.

This data dashboard, alongside the data produced by the Joint Biosecurity Centre, will provide local Health Protection Boards with national data and intelligence.

National and international surveillance and sampling are critical to identifying new variants of COVID-19. While it is not unusual for viruses to mutate and new variants to emerge it is critical that any variants of concern (VOC) are identified and picked up as quickly as possible.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) plays a crucial role in informing the Director of Public Health of the notification of any new VOC found within their local authority area.

To complement the national data dashboard, local data and intelligence gathered from partners and through local incident management teams and outbreak control teams, will be vital to ensure an effective tactical response to local outbreaks.

Timely data and surveillance information provide the Tactical Management Group with the necessary information to help prevent and control the transmission of coronavirus.

Team Devon Local Outbreak Engagement Board also has an important role in communicating data and intelligence with the public, primarily to strengthen the link between evidence and decision making and promote openness and transparency, as part of the Smarter Devon Smarter Decision-making work (also see working principle 6 on Working together).

A local coronavirus data and intelligence group was established to ensure that the publicly available data was presented in a user-friendly manner for the public and partners to access.

The Devon coronavirus dashboard provides timely information on coronavirus cases within Devon.

A comprehensive surveillance system is critical to enable the early identification of new variants of the COVID-19 virus.

UKHSA currently has a programme to undertake genome sequencing on approximately 5% of all positive COVID-19 tests. This random sequencing enables the early identification of new variants of concern.

Devon has been involved in a pilot wastewater project. This project analyses the contents of wastewater to identify the presence of COVID-19.

This is often an early warning sign of an increase or outbreak in a specific setting which enables further investigation and early intervention.