AN ‘AGILE’ plan to tackle a coronavirus outbreak in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead (RBWM) was presented to councillors.

As lockdown eases, all local authorities were required by the government to produce a local outbreak plan by June 30 to try and prevent an upsurge in Covid-19 cases as well as containing a spike if one happens on a local scale.

The government gave councils new powers to manage coronavirus outbreaks in their areas such as closing shops or pubs.

Anna Richards, public health consultant at RBWM, told members at health and wellbeing board on July 21 (Tuesday) the borough has had 411 confirmed cases with 272.4 cumulative case per 100,000 population – as at July 20.

Between July 7 and July 20, twelve cases were reported.

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Within the plan, actions that might be taken or recommended – depending on the outbreak – include alert messaging, contact tracing, closure of premises and playgrounds, deploying local testing, cancelling events, focused testing on people with or without symptoms, and restricting visiting.

“Many of these actions will be taken directly by the Thames Valley Health Protection Team” Anna Richards explained.

“But depending on the outbreak, they may need input from us at a borough level as well in terms of our expert understanding of our population groups, their settings, and the residents within our borough.”

Panel members were told this will fit and adapt into eight key themes – such as schools, care homes, the workforce, etc. – to prevent and manage outbreaks within those settings.

Other settings and communities the strategy will focus on includes homelessness, tourism, places of worship, and residents from a BAME (black, Asian, and minority ethnic) community.

The outbreak plan was made ‘collaboratively’ with the six other unitary authorities in Berkshire to produce ‘standardised’ plans – but adapted into their own borough’s needs and conditions.

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If in the event of an outbreak, Public Health England or another organisation will alert RBWM’s environmental health team where the information will be shared with the newly created East Berkshire Health Protection Cell – funded by the government.

The group comprises experts in public health and people who have in-depth knowledge of the local area and its communities.

Relevant action from the council will be taken once informed from the protection cell.

Anna Richards said the plan will continue to change and evolve as more information and guidance emerges.

She said: “The plans will continue be refined and adapted, and we will continue to review our plans as we get more guidance nationally.

“One key piece of guidance that we are looking forward to receiving is around particular scenarios and looking at how our plan might respond to those scenarios – but we are already starting doing some work on that locally, thinking about specific settings and what type of outbreak we might see in those settings to test our plan.”

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A monthly local outbreak engagement board – chaired by councillor Stuart Carroll (Conservative: Boyn Hill, lead member for health and social care – will be held involving key stakeholders and councillors in communicating the situation with residents and organisations.

At the end of the presentation, Cllr Carroll said: “I know from the initial meetings I’ve been involved in sitting on that board, we’ve got a lot of detail and focus there which is precisely what we need.

“It will be iterative and will be highly agile to respond to circumstances as is required.”

A separate plan has been drafted to tackle both influenza and coronavirus during winter.