Local COVID-19 contact tracing system launched to support national efforts

Published: Tuesday, 13th October 2020

A new local contact tracing system is being launched by the councils in Oxfordshire to help people who’ve recently tested positive for COVID-19 as part of the continued effort to #stopthespread.

Oxford City Council, Oxfordshire County Council and the county’s four district councils will work to contact people that the NHS test and trace national system is unable to reach.

The local system does not replace the national system which already reaches the large majority of cases. It will compliment the existing well-established arrangements and will seek to reach people the national system has not managed to reach.

Where national and local Oxfordshire County Council call handlers are still unable to contact people, trained staff from the City and District councils’ Environmental Health teams will visit individuals at home and deliver letters explaining that why the Council is trying to get in touch and asking people to contact the call centre. 

People contacted will be advised to isolate, talked through how to access local support when isolating, and asked about details of their close contacts so these can then be followed up by the national team.

The service will run seven days a week with calls coming from the council using a local (01865) phone number. Text messages will also be sent to people with mobile phones telling them to expect a call.

“We are working with our partners at a local level to help ensure the national test and trace system is as effective as possible. Our environmental health officers have a wealth of experience in tracking infection from other work such as tracing people following suspected cases of food poisoning. Our teams have extensive local knowledge to draw on and a personal approach will help to locate people who are hard to reach through the national system.  They will also be signposting people to the assistance available from the City Council and our volunteer partners so that people get all the help they need to self-isolate properly. Our role is to find people and then make it simple for them to do the right thing.”

Councillor Louise Upton, Cabinet Member for a Safer, Healthier Oxford

“Our local contact tracing system provides another layer of support to help control COVID-19 in Oxfordshire.

“If you are contacted, it will be a locally based person on the other end of the phone. They will talk to you about what you need to do to protect your friends and family whilst isolating, and about what support is available nearby.

“The overall aim is simple – to limit the transmission of COVID-19. By isolating when you have symptoms, getting a test, and picking up the phone when we call, we will give ourselves an even better chance to #stopthespread.”

Oxfordshire County Council Public Health Consultant, Adam Briggs