A local outbreak management plan is a document that the Government has asked every Council to put together.
The local outbreak management plan for Blackburn with Darwen will be used to help us prevent any outbreaks of COVID-19 in our town and will be used to decide what we need to do if a local outbreak occurs.
The plan works with the NHS test and trace system so that we can quickly respond to a local outbreak.
We need this plan so that everybody knows what they need to do if there is a local outbreak.
The ‘Blackburn with Darwen COVID-19 Health Protection Board’ has been setup to oversee management of any local outbreaks.
The local outbreak management plan has seven sections (called them themes in the plan) which cover different areas of work that need to be done to protect residents.
Theme 1. Planning for local outbreaks in care homes and schools.
Care homes and schools are high-risk settings for the COVID-19 virus. We are working closely with care homes and schools to help them reduce their risk and to deal with any outbreaks. We are helping them with training, risk assessments, buying Personal Protective Equipment and in lots of other ways.
Theme 2. Identifying and planning how to manage other high-risk places, locations and communities of interest.
There are some places and communities within the town that are at high risk of COVID-19 and we need to support these in a different way. We have written special plans to help these places and communities if there is an outbreak and each setting has a ‘Single Point of Contact’ who will help them manage the outbreak.
Evidence shows that people from a Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) background are more affected by COVID-19 and we are working with local partners to make sure our BAME residents are protected. These partners include employers, Madrassahs and Houses of Multiple Occupation.
We will give advice and guidance to any individual setting and business who requests it.
Theme 3. Identifying methods for local testing to ensure a swift response that is accessible to the entire population.
We realise that being able to provide testing quickly and efficiently will be very important to identify and control any outbreaks. Therefore, we will be using the following to help us with testing:
- Regional Testing Centre at Royal Blackburn Hospital
- Mobile testing units
- Swabs delivered by post or courier for people to swab themselves or for their carers to swab them.
We will be asking some people who do not have any symptoms to be tested as well so that we can check whether there are cases of COVID-19 in places we do not know about.
Theme 4. Contact tracing and infection control capability in complex settings.
Contact tracing will be very important to help us identify people who need to isolate and settings where there needs to be extra support. Contact tracing will also help us to take steps if an outbreak occurs. Local staff will be trained to make sure we have enough people to help with outbreaks on a long-term basis.
Theme 5. Integrating national and local data and scenario planning, through the Joint Biosecurity Centre.
We will need high-quality, up-to-date data and intelligence to help us prevent and control any outbreaks. Data is being provided to us nationally and we are gathering data and intelligence locally so that we are fully prepared. We will shares data with the public so that they know why certain decisions have been made and to promote positive relationships with local communities.
Theme 6. Supporting vulnerable local people to get help to self-isolate and ensuring services meet the needs of diverse communities.
The Blackburn with Darwen Help Hub will be available for people who still need support during self-isolation, if required. The support will include getting food, medicines, health care and other things. The service will be available in different languages.
Theme 7. Establishing governance structures, including Member-led Boards to communicate with the general public.
We will need the support of all our partners to manage any outbreaks. We need to make sure that our plans and responses are the right ones for Blackburn with Darwen. We have established an Outbreak Engagement Board that will oversee the Plan and bring together all our partners.
Keeping people informed about the plan
A communication campaign will be carried out to help people understand how to avoid an outbreak and what to do if there is an outbreak. It will also inform people about what they need to do if they feel unwell or are asked to self-isolate.
We will use the following to inform people:
- The Council’s Shuttle news website
- The Council’s social media pages including Facebook and Twitter
- Advertising in the borough for example, posters and billboards
- Many other ways that we have used before, and we know people use.
What will happen during a local outbreak
We have setup a Blackburn with Darwen Outbreak Management Hub that will manage all activities if there is an outbreak. The Outbreak Management Hub will receive information about every positive test in the borough and this information will be used to decide what action we need to take.
This will include:
- Making a decision about whether there is an outbreak. This would be done by the Council together with Public Health England.
- Providing advice and guidance about infection control to any setting where and outbreak has occurred
- Coordinating testing and providing more testing sites if necessary
- Continuing support for local vulnerable people and anything else that needs to be done to help the Borough recover from the outbreak
- Declaring the outbreak over when there have been no new cases of COVID-19 infection for a period of time.
The Government has given Councils new powers to close premises, cancel events and shut outdoor public spaces if there is a local outbreak. These powers will help the Council to respond quickly if there is an outbreak. The powers will only be used if we are not able to control the outbreak through other means such as explaining and encouraging people to take action themselves.
Paying for the plan
The Government has allocated £300 million to councils across the country to prevent and manage outbreaks. We will also need to work closely with our local partners.
How we will know the plan is working
The Covid-19 Health Protection Board and the Outbreak Engagement Board will continue to make sure that the plan is right for the Borough and is working, as it should. We will continue to develop and update the plan as we work together to address the threat of COVID-19 locally and nationally.