A ROADMAP for how Oxfordshire will deal with local coronavirus outbreaks has been published by the county council.

It contains measures such as identifying high-risk places and communities, as well as the potential for pop-up testing sites and ensuring vulnerable people told to self-isolate due to test and trace are supported.

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All local directors of public health were asked by the end of last month to produce such a plan – dealing with how to manage infection spikes as well as how to prevent them.

Oxfordshire County Council’s website now contains a summary of the document, alongside its Stop the Spread campaign which features advice for businesses and residents as lockdown eases.

Director of public health Ansaf Azhar, in a video to residents explaining the plan, said Oxfordshire was ‘in a good place’ with cases coming down in the county but that the threat from the virus ‘is far from over’.

He added: “We are acutely aware of the risk of a second peak and we want to manage that carefully.

Witney Gazette:

Ansaf Azhar

"Our local council partners and health partners, working together with Public Health England, have drawn together a comprehensive local outbreak plan to manage outbreaks as and when they happen. We will keep a close eye on local spikes and flare ups and we’ll manage them promptly.”

Mr Azhar said the best way to manage an outbreak was to prevent one happening and a key part of the plan was to ensure people continued to follow social distancing and washed their hands regularly.

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The plan also acknowledges that a ‘one size fits all’ approach is not realistic and states unique plans were being put in place for everything from care homes and schools, to BAME communities and the homeless population.

A crucial part of the county’s efforts has been the creation of the Oxfordshire Covid-19 Health Protection Board. Chaired by Mr Azhar, it is made up of representatives of the county and district councils, health providers and Thames Valley Police. The aim is to ensure a co-ordinated and consistent response throughout the county.

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The outbreak control plan’s goal is to prevent the spread of the virus by making sure any spike is picked up quickly and health officials are proactive.

Part of this is the need for enabling a ‘swift response’ to any outbreak through accessible testing.

The plan states this could include individually delivering tests, establishing local pop-up sites or housing mobile testing units at high-risk locations.

Another important aspect highlighted in the plan is ensuring vulnerable people are flagged by the national test and trace programme to local authorities.

This would mean if they need to self isolate they will be contacted by existing food and medicine support services.