A document has been published designed to establish how local coronavirus outbreaks in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly will be managed.
The 41-page Local Epidemic Management Plan (LOMP) establishes how different organizations and agencies will work together in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.
It describes in detail how the municipality and health partners are already using the data provided by Public Health England to monitor what is happening and how a series of tips has been set up to bring together all those who should be involved in the event of an epidemic.
But while the document clearly indicates how an outbreak will be identified and who will meet to decide which approach will be taken, there is no real information on what practical steps would have been taken.
Julian German, leader of the Cornish Council and president of the Local Outbreak Engagement Board, called on the government to provide clarity on what powers will be available in the event of an epidemic.
He said: “This plan details our response to any future coronavirus outbreaks and how we will work with our partners to prevent it from spreading. I thank everyone involved in helping to put it together.
“But we still need government clarity on what powers the Cornish Council will have to impose any regional or localized blockade, which would have a serious impact on our communities, businesses and livelihoods of residents in the affected areas.
“Where’s that guide? We have yet to see it, and this ongoing confusion threatens to undermine the hard work that we and other local authorities have done to protect our residents and limit the impact of Covid-19. “
Dr Ruth Goldstein, Council of Cornwall’s public health consultant, said about the LOMP: “It is a project on how to deal with the outbreaks if they occur in our population.
“It could be a place where there are more cases than you would expect in a particular environment such as a school or business.
“Public health is used to dealing with outbreaks of diseases such as measles, mumps and rubella, so we know what to do in these situations.
“The plan establishes how we will handle this in Cornwall.”
He added: “This is a first draft and a working document. We hope it will give the public confidence that we have a plan in place if necessary.”
The Cornish Council has provided a FAQ with the LOMP, here are some of the questions it answers.
How can LOMP contain an outbreak?
Regular test data will provide details of potential outbreaks which will be combined with local intelligence – by doctors, test centers and hospitals – which will help the council monitor cases. The LOMP will see the establishment of an “integrated data and surveillance system” to help it.
Council public health officials already have experience in managing other infectious diseases and this, combined with current data, will help them “develop effective responses to avoid potential outbreaks.”
The council states: “In the event an outbreak is detected, we will take early intervention measures to stop the spread before it intensifies further in the community. The plan establishes a” kit “of infection control measures from advice on hygiene practices isolation of people and premises, up to localized blockade (in collaboration with Public Health England) according to the severity of the epidemic. “
Public Health England (PHE) has also provided guidance for individual contexts such as workplaces, schools and nursing homes – this establishes how and who to contact in the event of a suspected COVID-19 outbreak. It also provides preventive guidance for particular settings.
What if there is an outbreak in the community?
The council states: “The precise actions taken will depend on the complexity of the epidemic. Our first priority is to protect our residents. As soon as an epidemic is detected, an epidemic assessment team meets to identify and agree on intervention measures. early to be taken to stop the spread before it intensifies further in the community.
“The plan will be implemented by incident response teams who will work with specific settings and locations and establish an infection control measures toolkit, including advice on hygiene practices, implementation of public health measures, providing targeted tests up to localized blockade. The action that will be taken will depend on the severity of the outbreak and the most appropriate measures. “
What happens if I am sick or if someone who is with me is sick?
If you think that you or someone in your family has COVID-19 symptoms, you must stay home and self-isolate. Those with symptoms should be tested.
Tests can be booked by going to www.nhs.uk/ask-for-a-coronavirus-test or by calling 119. If the test is positive, the person should self-isolate. If the person with you may need to do this at your home or you may need to return to their home near their medical support.
Why doesn’t the LOMP determine what specific actions will be taken in the event of an epidemic?
The council states: “The LOMP establishes a rapid response cascade for all potential local outbreaks. The specific actions will be unique for each case and therefore the plan focuses on providing consistency of response by offering flexibility in the exact actions implemented.”