The Wokingham Paper

If a coronavirus outbreak occurs in Wokingham, this is what the council plans to do

Shute End Wokingham
Wokingham Borough Council's offices in Shute End

IF A CORONAVIRUS outbreak occurs within Wokingham Borough, the council has pledged to act swiftly to prevent it spreading. 

The council has published a draft of its outbreak control plan setting out what it would do should two or more people test positive for Covid-19. It is expected to be presented to a meeting of the Executive Committee on Thursday, July 30 for discussion and voting. 

Last week, the Government said that local authorities would be able to action their own local lockdowns in a bid to prevent another national shutdown. 

Wokingham Borough Council says its aim is to prevent local outbreaks through promotion of social distancing measures, good hygiene and observance of self-isolation rules where necessary and also to support response to any outbreaks that occur through timely and accurately targeted communications and contact tracing

Under Wokingham’s plans, the council has pledged to communicate quickly to residents where the outbreak has occurred, to help vulnerable residents who need additional assistance and to give support and advice to all residents and businesses. 

The actions they may take include restricting attendance at an outbreak site, cancelling events, closing community facilities and premises. The council will also send out message alerts and offer testing of people with and without coronavirus symptoms. 

Messages will be communicated through Wokingham.Today, the council’s website and social media channels and by the council’s partners. 

Cllr John Halsall, the leader of Wokingham Borough Council, said that it was trying to keep residents informed. 

“I am producing a weekly bulletin once a week, I thought it was sensible to inform residents,” he said. 

“We have got our outbreak control plan published in draft form, and we’re now getting postcode data from Public Health England which tells us where local outbreaks are.

“In Wokingham’s case, our R rate is so low now: there has been just a small percentile change, and our care homes are completely covid-free.”

The ability for these regionalised lockdowns has been welcomed by the Local Government Association, who feel that it is the best way to tackle significant outbreaks as councils are the ones that know their communities best and can address each unique outbreak. 

Cllr James Jamieson, Chairman of the Local Government Association, said: “Greater powers for councils to take swift and effective action to address local outbreaks will hopefully help avoid the need for more stringent measures to be imposed locally.

“Managing local Covid-19 outbreaks will always need to build on the consent of local communities and an effective system of tracing and testing. The use of enforcement powers should be an option of last resort where individuals or organisations are unable, unwilling or opposed to taking actions that reduce the spread of this virus.”

The draft plan has been uploaded to the council’s website, https://www.wokingham.gov.uk/health/public-health-campaigns/coronavirus/

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Chrristopher Townsend

When Cllr Halsall refers to “our care homes” does he mean all care homes in the borough or just the council-run ones?

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