Information about Covid19:
Please read our information on how we are supporting residents and businesses, as well as information on affected services.

Cornwall Council’s case tracking team helps tackle spread of COVID-19

Cornwall Council has been bolstering the national effort in tackling the spread of COVID-19 with its own case tracking team. 

It launched the service in July to provide more support to people who test positive to ensure their welfare needs are being met and signpost them to the appropriate support services if necessary. 

Continue reading

The team’s work also provides a valuable insight into how the virus is being transmitted in Cornwall so transmissions can be contained as quickly as possible. 

Running in parallel with the national NHS Test and Trace system, the aim is to use local knowledge to help target potential hotspots and avert outbreaks. 

While the national service contacts positive cases by email or text, the Council’s team of eight public health and environmental health experts uses the phone in order to glean as much information as possible. 

Funded through the government’s ring-fenced Outbreak Management Grant of £2.3 million, the service has so far proved a success, engaging with around 85 per cent of cases in Cornwall. 

Indeed, other local authorities have been very interested in reviewing the service with a view to setting up similar teams of their own. 

Cllr Sally Hawken, Cornwall Council’s Portfolio Holder for Children, Wellbeing and Public Health, said: “Having a local solution increases the number of contacts being made with those who have tested positive for COVID-19 which can help stop the spread of the virus. Local data and community knowledge can be used for a more targeted approach as well as provide support for those who need it during isolation.  

“It also helps us to understand how the virus is being transmitted across Cornwall, including linkages between cases and settings. Local knowledge and intelligence can also be gathered and used to act quickly if a breakout at a business or large gathering has occurred.” 

The team aims to: 

  • Contact all cases to establish if they have any health and wellbeing needs, such as the need for food for food or medicine whilst self-isolating. 
  • Ensure that the cases understand the requirements of self-isolation. 
  • Ensure that all the cases’ close contacts have been identified and recorded on the national system (CTAS). 
  • Determine, where possible any possible routes of transmission of the virus to the person, we do this by asking about household/friendship cases and understanding work settings, or previous activities. 
  • Identify any settings/communities where there is obvious transmission that has not been alerted to Public Health England and the national system. 

Dr Ruth Goldstein, Deputy Director of Public Health for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, said: “This work really helps the team to understand the bigger picture of data in Cornwall and see any potential areas for concern. 

“The team comes from a range of backgrounds including public health, environmental health and nursing staff. They work on a rota basis so we aim to have five people each day making calls and have one person doing calls on a Saturday and Sunday. 

“The majority of people answer our calls and are happy to respond to our questions and provide the level of detail we ask for. Indeed, many have expressed gratitude for our call – sometimes they are feeling lonely or have questions they’ve wanted to ask.” 

Case Study: Food Factory

An individual developed COVID-19 symptoms and tested positive which identified them as working in the factory. The Council’s contact tracing team spoke to the employer, following which a number of other staff at the site were asked to self-isolate. Targeted testing then took place, which was increased as more positive cases were discovered. Whole factory testing revealed more than 170 employees had COVID-19, most of whom were not unwell and did not know that they had the virus. By putting in place this early intervention the team helped prevent further spread of the virus. 

Story created on 20 November