12:00PM, Thursday 12 March 2020
The council’s response to coronavirus is set to be ‘proportionate and responsible’ after a resident of the Royal Borough tested positive this week.
On Monday, the Royal Borough confirmed its first case of COVID-19, and that the patient was receiving treatment in hospital.
According to the council, all those who have been in contact with the patient have been contacted by Public Health England, and they advise those who have not been contacted to avoid taking action.
Cllr Stuart Carroll, lead member for adult social care, children services, health and mental health outlined to the Advertiser how the council was res-ponding to the outbreak.
He said: “It is worrying because when you have cases and deaths it’s a profound concern.
“But I think what we have to do is ensure that our communications around this are proportionate and responsible. It’s quite right that we keep a vigilant eye on how the situation develops.
“Really this has to be an expert-led response from central Government and the Chief Medical Officer’s office and Public Health England, but we are firmly encouraging people to undertake those basic but very important public health measures to try to reduce transmission and contamination.”
Over the last few days, Cllr Carroll has been working closely with the Royal Borough’s public health team and director of public health to provide residents with the most up-to-date, accurate information on how they should respond to the outbreak.
Their advice is to wash hands regularly, sneeze into tissues and limit travel, particularly to known hotspots.
In the Government’s budget revealed yesterday (Wednesday) Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak announced a £500million ‘hardship fund’ for local
authorities to help vulnerable people and mitigate the effect of coronavirus on society.
In response to the outbreak and predicted difficulties for businesses, the Government also announced that small retail, leisure or hospitality companies with a rateable value of less than £51,000 will not have to pay business rates next financial year. Each business could save up to £25,000.
At an emergency Cobra meeting on Monday, the Government opted to keep the nation in the ‘containment’ phase, focusing on preventing the disease from taking hold of the country for as long as possible.
The country remained in the containment phase at the time of going to press yesterday (Wednesday).
However, it is possible the nation may move to the ‘delay’ phase soon, which would lead the Government to consider closing schools, postponing or cancelling large-scale gatherings and encouraging people to work from home.
Cllr Carroll stated there were no plans to educate children at home yet, but that the council would co-ordinate with Public Health England should the situation change.
He said: “If we move to that phase (delay) we will then look to put in place appropriate plans based on what is required at that time.
“The slight challenge here is that we can’t predict the future, none of us are clairvoyants, so we’ve got to really make sure that our responses are bespoke and relevant to the situation we’re confronting.”
On the situation at the borough’s care homes, he stated that ‘very rigorous and robust’ measures around handwashing were in place.
He added: “Should we evolve into a different situation, we would again review what we need to do to ensure that our adult social care service can continue to deliver and can continue to protect our most vulnerable.
“At this point, the focus is very much on ensuring that the information flow is correct and that everybody’s aware of those public health measures that need to be implemented.”
If you have recently travelled to an affected area or been in contact with some-one who has, and you think you have symptoms associated with the coronavirus, you should not go to A&E or your doctor but self-isolate at home and use the NHS 111 service to advise if you need medical help. Visit www.111.nhs.uk or call 111.
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