Local test and trace system tracking down Swindon’s lost covid-19 contacts

By Barrie Hudson - 4 November 2020


A dedicated team of public health staff are working to contain the spread of covid-19 in Swindon.

  • A member of the team at work

    A member of the team at work

The local Public Health test and trace team at Swindon Borough Council has spent the last two months taking part in a pilot project tracking down contacts of positive covid-19 cases which the national system has been unable to reach.

The team has successfully contacted 83 percent of the 184 cases handed to the local authority by the NHS test and trace service. A further nine cases are currently being followed up.

Trish Cowie, the council’s Test and Trace Lead, said: “We make up to a maximum of three phone calls, leaving messages where we are able to, and, if there is no response, we follow that up with text messages and emails which is all done on the same day.

“If we still receive no response, a member of staff will visit the person’s home and try to speak to them face to face. Once we have made contact we can then collect the information we need to complete the contact tracing process.”

In total, Trish and her colleagues have completed 28 doorstep visits, and the team is preparing for a busy few weeks with the town’s covid-19 case rate having increased significantly in line with rising infections nationally.

Trish is currently training an additional seven members of staff to continue the council’s contact tracing work in an effort to break the chain of infection within the town.

Trish added: “We have established really good relationships with residents through our work and all the other covid-related support the council has delivered over the last six months.

“This has helped us engage people at a local level and to pick up on where people may need some additional support from the council.

“One resident we spoke to seemed surprised and somewhat proud when we thanked them for taking the time to speak to us because, as we explained, by engaging with us and following the self-isolation guidance they are helping to keep people safe.”

Councillor Brian Ford, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Adults and Health, said: “Trish and her colleagues have done an amazing job over the last few weeks and have really shown the benefit of having that local knowledge in trying to reach those contacts that have been identified by the national test and trace service.

“The team’s persistence and diligence played an important role in getting our case rate down from its peak over the summer, helping us come off the Government’s covid watchlist.

“Our case rate in Swindon has increased significantly as it has done across the country, but it is incredibly important people continue to follow the public health guidance now and during the forthcoming lockdown.

“If you are contacted by the test and trace service, or you receive a call or text from our own team here at the council, please adhere to the advice and self-isolate if you are advised to do so.”

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