New measures to contain and reduce cases of coronavirus in Devon and safeguard the health of local people have been revealed.
They detail plans to provide a fast response to any future outbreaks of the virus across the county and help prevent it spreading.
The plans involve close partnership working between local organisations like health, councils, police, schools and care homes alongside businesses and key industries such as tourism.
And they will provide additional support for people who are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 such as the elderly, those with underlying health conditions, black and ethnic communities and those with learning difficulties and autism.
The new measures are detailed in the Local Outbreak Management Plan, which has been published by Devon County Council today, (Tuesday 30 June).
The authority is one of 11 Beacon councils selected to help and advise other public authorities.
Devon’s Director of Public Health, Virginia Pearson, will lead a small committee made up of key personnel who can marshal all the resources needed to provide a swift response to managing an outbreak of the virus.
And Devon County Council leader John Hart will chair Team Devon, (the Local Outbreak Engagement Board), which will monitor how the plan is implemented and liaise directly with Government Ministers.
“This comprehensive plan details how we will work with the new NHS Test and Trace Service and ensures we have the necessary capacity and capability to provide a fully co-ordinated approach to contain and manage local outbreaks of COVID-19.
“The plan isn’t set in stone. It provides a blueprint for action, but it will need regular updating as new national guidance is produced or legislation changes.
“Containing local outbreaks successfully will need to be a co-ordinated effort with specialists from Public Health England, the NHS, social care, district councils, education, the police, the private sector, employers and the community and voluntary sectors.”
“The vast majority of Devon people have behaved with great sense and responsibility throughout the pandemic and that’s meant we’ve had the lowest number of outbreaks by some way throughout the crisis.
“We obviously want to keep it that way and reduce it still further. We can now build on this effort and extend the work we have done together as Team Devon to protect our residents and support the most vulnerable.
“We will now be at the forefront of responding and managing the outbreak at a local level. And if there’s a hotspot in a town or village we’ll be able to get onto it swiftly before it spreads too far.
“We’ve ensured that our plan includes a strong focus on prevention and early intervention to ensure key settings such as care homes and schools and high-risk locations and communities identify and prioritise preventative measures.
“The good sense of the people of Devon has helped protect us all so far and they continue to have a vital role in reducing the spread of the virus and preventing further outbreaks.
“I would urge them to continue to follow national guidance and advice and keep up social distancing, wash their hands regularly and, if they think they might have the virus, get a test and self-isolate if that’s necessary.”