A LOCAL outbreak plan has been published to control and prevent another coronavirus outbreak within Slough.

At a virtual extraordinary cabinet meeting on June 30 (Tuesday), cabinet members heard and approved strategies and plans on how the council would prevent and control any spikes or outbreaks within Slough as national lockdown begins to ease.

The government required all local authorities to submit a local outbreak plan to them by the end of June.

The plan sets out how Slough Borough Council (SBC) will work with communities, community and religious leaders, and the council’s partners – such as Thames Valley Police, Public Health England (PHE), local businesses, schools and care homes – to respond, contain and prevent another coronavirus outbreak within concentrated areas.

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In the event or an increase likelihood of an outbreak in Slough, the plan could be triggered and a list of actions could be taken such as:

  • Contact tracing
  • Alert messaging Slough residents on the situation
  • Keeping people updated via social media
  • Deploying intensive local testing and tracing
  • Focused testing on people with or without symptoms
  • Closing ‘non-essential’ shops, playgrounds or other facilities
  • Special testing facilities set up
  • Restricting visiting times
  • Enhancing monitoring of people in isolation

This plan will cover ‘themes’ on an individual basis depending on their settings such as schools, local businesses, care homes, workplaces, vulnerable people, and places of high risk, locations and communities.

To keep track of the situation, daily data on testing and tracing will be monitored to identify potential outbreaks so that action can be taken if necessary.

An outbreak is defined when two or more persons have linked cases of Covid-19 or may also be defined as a situation when the observed number of cases unaccountably exceeds the expected number, the report states.

During a report presented by Natasa Pantelic (Labour: Cippenham Meadows), lead member for health and wellbeing, and Tessa Lindfield, strategic director of Public Health Berkshire, highlighted the damning PHE report which said people from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) groups are at a higher risk of dying from Covid-19 than white people – with BAME groups making up approximately 56 per cent of Slough’s population, according to the Office for National Statistics.

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The leader of the council, councillor James Swindlehurst (Labour: Cippenham Green), said: “One of the particular issues about our community is that it’s ethnically diverse. We know ethnic communities are hit harder by Covid than other communities – although I don’t think anyone has fully done the work to get to the bottom how much of that is because their in health service jobs, public facing jobs, have poorer health to start with joining a cohort of working class people taking the battering of Covid.

He added: “Either way, we know our population have already seen higher outbreak numbers in terms of cases than the surrounding area, we behave much like a London borough, and going forward this is likely to remain a challenge.”

Speaking at the end of the presentation, Ms Lindfield said: “The idea is the plan will continue to be refined and will adapt as we learn and we will review against new guidance and new evidence as it becomes available and change it as needed.”

The report states up to June 12, Slough has seen 107 deaths involving Covid-19 where 80.4 per cent occurred in hospital, 11.2 per cent were in care homes, and 8.4 per cent occurred in other community settings such as homes.

Nine out of the 16 care homes in Slough have experienced outbreaks since the beginning of the outbreak.

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SBC received nearly £700,000 from the government’s Test and Trace Grant to support the localised response of the coronavirus.

Following the recent local lockdown of Leicester, councillor Robert Anderson (Britwell and Northborough), cabinet member for transport and environmental services, asked who makes the decision to lock down Slough in the event of a localised outbreak.

Josie Wragg, chief executive of SBC, responded saying national government have the power to enforce a local lockdown as councils do not have the power to implement this.