Plan launched to protect Plymouth from a Covid-19 outbreak

A plan to reduce cases of coronavirus in Plymouth and protect residents in the event of a local outbreak has been agreed.

The Local Outbreak Management Plan has been put in place as the city takes responsibility for providing a fast response to any future outbreaks of the virus to prevent it spreading.

It sets out how partner organisations including the City Council, NHS, Public Health England and the police will work together to protect residents and support schools, care homes and businesses.

The aim is to work closely with the NHS Test and Trace service and ensure that local knowledge, networks and contacts are used to protect residents and ensure the needs of all members of the community are considered.

The plans are being overseen by the Plymouth Covid-19 Local Outbreak Engagement Board, which is chaired by the leader of the Council and includes the Director of Public Health and senior leaders from the NHS, Police, Clinical Commissioning Group, Council and the business community. The board held its first meeting on Monday.

Dr Ruth Harrell, Director of Public Health for Plymouth, said: “This plan is about the city working together to protect its residents, bringing all the knowledge and expertise that exists here together.

“We recognise that easing the measures that have been in place in recent months to stop the spread of Covid-19 is important for restarting the economy and relieving the burdens that people have had to shoulder but we need to do this very carefully.

“The risks of a second wave are significant and have the potential to cause significant ill health and loss of life. We will take a cautious, system-wide approach and will be carefully monitoring the data and intelligence so we can address with issues quickly.

“We need the support of all residents in ensuring that NHS Test and Trace is as effective as it can be and for communities, businesses and organisations to take actions when needed to stop the virus spreading. These could have a short term impact, such as self-isolation, enhanced infection control measures, measures to reduce footfall and possibly even temporary closures.

“We will be working closely with organisations and communities across the city to help ensure everyone is working together to reduce the risk of an outbreak and to act quickly as one team in the event that there is one.”

Plymouth City Council leader Tudor Evans OBE said: “The support that the vast majority of people in Plymouth have given to protect each other during the Covid-19 pandemic has been amazing so far. Most people have done what has been asked of them to protect themselves and others and to support the NHS. This has helped ensure that Plymouth has so far not experienced the number of cases that some other areas have.

“Unfortunately this is no consolation for those who sadly have lost loved ones. There is absolutely no room for complacency and we need to do everything we can to help prevent more people from suffering in this way.

"We need to build on work done so far and work together as one city to protect each other and look out for the most vulnerable in our community.

"I would urge everyone to keep up with the effort to save lives in Plymouth with simple measures such as social distancing, washing hands frequently and getting tested and self-isolating if they think they might have symptoms."