A new plan for how to deal with a potential coronavirus outbreak in Bracknell has been approved.

The Bracknell Covid-19 outbreak control plan, approved at Tuesday’s Bracknell Forest Council (BFC) executive committee, will help the council to respond to outbreaks in care homes, schools and other high-risk locations.

Councillor Dale Birch, lead member for Adult Services, Health and Housing  and deputy leader of the council, said: “The purpose of this plan is to keep our residents safe as the fight against Covid-19 goes on and we seek to get some sort of normality – not that we will ever go back to where it was.

“As the lockdown restrictions are lifted, we must still be aware that Covid-19 is still out there.

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“People are still dying – thankfully, not in the numbers they were.

“This is one plan I never want to use, but everybody must know what to do if it is needed.

“I am pleased to endorse this plan because it focuses on every one of us.”

What is the council’s plan in the event of a local outbreak?

The plan sets out how partners will work together to keep residents safe from COVID-19 pending the development of more effective treatments and/or a vaccine.

BFC has engaged with other agencies in Berkshire to develop the plan, which had to meet national requirements and address the particular issues and risks which Covid-19 poses for Bracknell.

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The plan aims to help the council:

  1. Prevent and manage outbreaks in care homes and schools
  2. Prevent and manage outbreaks in other high-risk locations, workplaces and communities
  3. Deploy local testing capacity optimally
  4. Deliver contact tracing for complex settings and cohorts
  5. Data integration Access to the right local data to enable the other themes and prevent outbreaks
  6. Support vulnerable people and ensure services meet the needs of diverse communities
  7. Take local actions to contain outbreaks and communicate with the general public
  8. Keeping Bracknell’s workforce safe

There is also a focus on communications and engagement to ensure that residents are well informed

What actions might be taken or recommended if an outbreak occurs?

The council says it will watch data on cases and risks closely, so its spots outbreaks early, and take evidence-based actions on what is most likely to be effective.

These are some of the measures the council could take:

  • Enhanced monitoring of the health and welfare of people isolating
  • Specific advice on PPE and infection prevention and control measures
  • Contact tracing
  • Alert messaging
  • Focused testing of people with and without symptoms
  • Special testing facilities set up
  • Closure of premises
  • Restricting visiting
  • Cancelling events
  • Closing playgrounds or other facilities

The plan will be refined, adapted and reviewed with the help of a public-facing monthly (or more frequent if necessary) Outbreak Engagement Board, which will be overseen by the East Berkshire Health Protection Board.

Additionally, the Thames Valley Local Resilience Forum can act across a broader geography if needed and the South East Regional Oversight Group will help Bracknell to learn from other areas.

When should you get in touch with the council about Covid-19?

If you are self-isolating or vulnerable and need help with shopping, medication delivery, you can contact the community response team on 01344 266 911 or email community@healthwatchbracknellforest.co.uk

If you think someone has Covid-19 in your workplace, school or other setting please contact 01635 503242 or email CV19notifications@westberks.gov.uk

If you have Covid-19 symptoms, stay home and contact NHS at www.111.nhs.uk or ring 119

What are the next steps for the plan?

Cllr Birch said the plan will change constantly as BFC’s knowledge of how to defeat Covid-19 grows.

The council will refine the plan with partners and adapt it as it learns more about Covid-19, and will review it alongside new national programmes such as the Joint Biosecurity Centre.