Local teams report 99.6% Covid-19 contact tracing success rate since taking over from national system

A few people out and about in Bury St Edmunds before the Covid restrictions are eased. Picture: DENI

Local Covid-19 contact tracing teams have reported a 99.6% success rate since taking over from the national system - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

Covid-19 contact tracing teams in Suffolk have had a 99.6% success rate since taking over full responsibility from the national system, latest figures have revealed.

Suffolk was one of 17 areas across the country where local teams took over full responsibility for contact tracing from the national system on March 22, in a project called Local Zero.

Previously, local efforts had concentrated around positive cases the national system had struggled to make contact with, requiring the specialist on-the-ground knowledge of local teams.

Data presented to last week's Local Outbreak Engagement Board gathering of council and health leaders indicated that since the changeover, local contact tracing teams had achieved a 99.6% contact tracing success rate across 230 cases, using a combination of phone calls and door knocking.

Martin Seymour, from Suffolk County Council, said: "Contact tracing is a key element. The team is based around two functions - the core contact tracing is an area that is expanding rapidly, not least with the introduction of Local Zero where cases are handled locally and picked up immediately from the national tracing team.

"We are able to respond much more quickly and more effectively. It's a really good, positive move for us.

"But also the liaison team have provided that vital link to other work streams, making valuable connections between cases and contacts, and improving understanding."

Meanwhile, a survey of around 1,400 people in Suffolk found that 93% were willing to share details of their contacts with teams if they tested positive for the virus, indicating a strong level of confidence.

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Jo Avery, joint lead for the local outbreak control plan at Public Health Suffolk, said: "We have moved into taking over Local Zero which is picking up all of the cases pretty much as soon as their test result hits the national system. That is working really well.

"It has increased the caseload we are dealing with, but the team have responded and risen to that challenge very successfully.

"It's important to note we have worked really closely with the national system to bring about this change and bring Local Zero to Suffolk. We meet with them regularly and they have been very supportive to make this a smooth transition."