Wokingham Borough Council statement on COVID-19 in Wokingham Borough
Specialists from Public Health England (PHE) are working with Wokingham Borough Council and NHS colleagues following confirmed cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19).
There have now been three confirmed cases in Wokingham borough, including a member of staff at Willow Bank Infant school, who is in a treatment centre in London.
The infant school will re-open tomorrow (Wednesday March 11.) Other schools in the borough are operating as normal and have been made aware and provided with the latest advice from Public Health England.
Dr Alison Barnett, Centre Director, Public Health England South East, said:
“Public Health England is contacting people who had close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 in Berkshire. The individual is a member of staff at a local primary school and we’re working closely with Wokingham Borough Council to provide all necessary support to the school and local community to manage the situation.
“Close contacts will be given health advice about symptoms and emergency contact details to use if they become unwell in the 14 days after contact with the confirmed case. This tried and tested method will ensure we are able to minimise any risk to them and the wider public.”
Cllr Charles Margetts, executive member for adult social care and public health said: “Wokingham Borough Council is working with health colleagues to do everything we can to help reduce the risk of further cases and safeguard our local school and community.
“Good hygiene is the best prevention and there are some simple steps you can take to protect you and your family by washing your hands regularly and thoroughly and if you cough, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue.
“If you have recently been to one of the affected countries and are feeling unwell, you should phone the NHS 111 helpline for further advice straight away – please don’t go to your doctor or a hospital. There’s lots of advice on how people can protect themselves online at www.nhs.uk/coronavirus”
Notes to Editors
Background on contact tracing
The tracing and managing of contacts who have had significant exposure to confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus is being co-ordinated by Public Health England.
The process starts with a predetermined list of information being collected on each patient. This includes details of any places visited following the onset of symptoms or, in the case of travellers, since they arrived in the UK.
This is either done by the clinician caring for the patient or in conjunction with them. Translation services will used if needed to ensure the information is as accurate as possible.
Information is also collected about significant contacts – those people in close contact with the case while symptomatic, such household members, fellow travellers etc.
Using the available information, all close contacts of the case will be assessed and either categorised into high or low risk. All contacts will be provided with health advice about symptoms and given emergency contact details to use if they develop symptoms in the 14 days after the exposure occurred.
Those considered to be at higher risk will have a verbal assessment of their health and their health will be monitored on a daily basis and they will asked to self-isolate. Should any of the group report symptoms they will be assessed and offered testing in line with current guidance.
If I live in Wokingham Borough am I at extra risk because of the recent cases?
We ensure that someone with coronavirus doesn’t put others at risk by treating them in isolation and carefully investigating who they had close contact with through contact tracing.
Contact tracing is a fundamental part of outbreak control that’s used by public health professionals around the world.
If a person tests positive for coronavirus, we speak to the patient to identify anyone who has had close contact with them during the time they are considered to be infectious and go all out to find these people as soon as possible.
Once we have contacted them we can then give them the advice they need. If they are in groups considered to be a higher risk, we make sure that we follow up with them daily to see how they are. If they become unwell we are then able to assess them quickly and take appropriate action.
What does self-isolation mean for people who don’t have symptoms?
Just like when you have the flu, individuals should remain at home and should not go to work, school or public areas. Where possible, individuals should avoid having visitors to their home but it is ok for friends, family or delivery drivers to drop off food. Individuals should not use public transport or taxis until 14 days after their return from an infected area.
Individuals should monitor their symptoms and call NHS 111 (or your national alternative) if they develop any of the following symptoms – fever, cough, and difficulty breathing.