Blackburn & Darwen set up their OWN local track and trace system – blaming national failure to reach cases


A NEW test and trace system is being developed specifically for Blackburn after failures in the national system to reach contacts of coronavirus cases.

Darwen Council in partnership with Public Health England has launched a local system to try and hunt down more cases and stop the spike of infections in the area.

Blackburn with Darwen is rolling out their own local contact tracing system

The new system will focus on using local knowledge to get a hold of residents where the national test and trace system is unable to find someone.

There were 118 new coronavirus cases in Blackburn in the week to July 17 – compared with just 63 the week before that.

There are 81 cases per 100,000 people in the area – compared with the national average of 5 in 100,000.

Darwen council said the national test and trace system will have a crack at finding contacts of positive cases first but if they can’t find them in 48 hours the details will be passed onto the local service.

Local contact tracers will visit people in person if they get can’t through to residents by email, text or phone after two days.

Director of Public Health at Blackburn with Darwen Council, Professor Dominic Harrison said the national system is “not tracing enough cases and contacts fast enough.”

Director of Business Change at Blackburn with Darwen Council and the senior officer leading the development of the new system Paul Fleming said the new system was “vital”.

He said: “Test and trace is a vital part of the national strategy to get the virus under control.

“It is even more vital in areas like ours where we have a rising tide of cases.

“Our system complements the national system because we have the local knowledge of the area and the ability to send officers round to people’s addresses.

“Our system is also beneficial because we can refer those who need to isolate to local support services if necessary.”

The number of people who have been in close contact with coronavirus cases is still falling every week.

Last week, almost 5,000 close contacts were missed by contact traces – or 25 per cent of people – compared with 22 per cent the week before that.

Other areas with spikes in cases such as Leicester and Liverpool launched heavy local action to carry out door-to-door contact tracing to find anyone who might be infectious.

Coronavirus cases are on the rise again after weeks of falling numbers and fears are growing over a second wave.

The PM pushed back planned openings of businesses due to open on August 1 by another two weeks because of warnings of a second spike.

And more areas including Manchester were put into a local lockdown last week after a rise in cases.