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Portsmouth City Council has published its Outbreak Control Plan, outlining how it’s going to monitor and respond to any outbreaks of coronavirus in the city.

The government has asked each Upper Tier Local Authority to produce Local Outbreak Control Plans to help monitor the rate of coronavirus in that area and respond quickly to any places where two or more people are confirmed as having coronavirus to help stop the virus from spreading further. This is important as lockdown restrictions ease and is a key part of trying to return to a more normal way of life.

The plan builds on other health protection plans that are already in place and sets out the steps that need to happen if a coronavirus outbreak occurs and who is responsible for different actions. It looks at what is already in place and what else needs to be done.

There are seven themes to the plan:

–          Care homes and schools

–          High risk places, locations and communities

–          Local testing capacity

–          Contact tracing in complex settings

–          Data integration

–          Vulnerable people

–          Local governance

The council will work closely with Public Health England’s local health protection team to monitor cases of coronavirus in the city and will partner with them to manage the situation if an outbreak occurs. Close working with national government, other local councils, the NHS, businesses and employers, voluntary organisations, other community partners and residents is also central to the plan.

A Local Health Protection Board comprising council officers; including from public health, housing, adult social care, education and leisure, and representatives from Portsmouth Hospitals Trust, NHS Portsmouth Clinical Commissioning Group, Solent NHS Trust and Hive Portsmouth will be responsible for implementing the plan.

A Local Engagement Board has been set up to take oversight of the plan and help make sure it’s delivering as it needs to. The membership of this includes Councillors, the Director of Public Health at Portsmouth City Council, a Headteacher, a GP and representatives from Hive Portsmouth, Healthwatch and Shaping Portsmouth to ensure that the plan meets the varying needs of people in the city.

Helen Atkinson, Director of Public Health at Portsmouth City Council, said; “The current situation in Portsmouth is positive and we clearly all want it to stay this way. The Outbreak Control Plan will help us to achieve this. It details the steps we need to take, and the people we need to work with, to monitor cases in the city so that if there are two or more in any single place we can act quickly and look to stop further spread. The document will be continually reviewed and updated to reflect any changes in guidance or new information about the virus.

“We can’t afford to become complacent so it remains critically important for everyone to continue to follow the guidance around social distancing, hand washing and respiratory hygiene to help us stay free of new cases in the city. We should still all be looking to stay two metres apart from people we don’t live with; with the exception of a support bubble for single adult households, and should only reduce this to one metre plus when two metres isn’t possible.

“If someone does develop symptoms; a high temperature, a new continuous cough or a loss, or change to, their sense of smell or taste, then they must stay at home and request a test immediately. If they test positive for coronavirus then they, and anyone they’ve been in close contact with, need to follow the self-isolation guidance to avoid potentially spreading the virus and seeing us have to return to lockdown restrictions. Promoting these messages and the use of NHS Test and Trace are integral parts of the Outbreak Control Plan.”

Cllr Matthew Winnington, Cabinet Member for Health, Wellbeing and Social Care at Portsmouth City Council, said; “I want to recognise all of the hard work that has gone into producing the Outbreak Control Plan for Portsmouth and thank those who have made this possible in a short timeframe.

“As more restrictions ease this weekend with venues including bars, restaurants, cinemas, libraries, community centres and places of worship being able to open their doors again it’s so important that we have the ability, and processes in place, locally to both monitor and respond to any increases in cases quickly.

“I’m pleased to be the Chair of the Local Engagement Board and to be able to have a role in making sure the plan is working as well as it can be and engages with all communities and settings in the city.”

You can find the plan, an easy read summary and details of the Local Engagement Board meetings on the Coronavirus Outbreak Plan page.