New local COVID-19 contact tracing service begins work in Kingston
Test and Trace completion rates have improved in Kingston following the launch of Keep Kingston Safe Test and Trace, a local contact tracing team working to help in the battle against COVID-19.
The new team supports NHS Test and Trace in the borough, stepping in when the national service cannot contact a person who has tested positive for coronavirus. They also provide Kingston residents with vital information on support they may be able to receive whilst self-isolating.
Before the new service was launched at the start of November 2020, NHS Test and Trace was reaching about 80% of people who had tested positive for coronavirus in Kingston.
Using local knowledge and information, the new team have helped boost this number to 84% by reaching out to people over text, phone and, if needed, a home visit. In the coming weeks, the team will aim to continue driving up the rate of cases contacted. By collecting the close contacts of people who test positive, we can help ensure they know to self isolate, and help prevent the further spread of coronavirus in Kingston.
The Keep Kingston Safe Test and Trace service is also providing people who have tested positive for coronavirus with information on support they may be able to receive, such as help getting food, medicine or financial support. If necessary they are making referrals to the Kingston Stronger Together Hub to assist residents in accessing these services.
Iona Lidington, Director of Public Health at Kingston Council, said:
"Working in partnership with NHS Test and Trace, our local Kingston-based contact tracing service will help us to proactively reach more people who have tested positive for the virus. It will also help us to provide support to the people who need it the most whilst they and their household are self-isolating.
"So far the team has been really well received. We have heard from several residents how grateful they are for the offer of support outlined by our contact tracers, and we are grateful for how cooperative people have been in providing details of their contacts.
"It is vital that everybody who tests positive for coronavirus self-isolates for 10 days from when they first experienced symptoms, and provides Test and Trace with details of their close contacts.”
Winston Brooks, a Contact Tracer in the new team, said:
"Residents appreciate the care, advice and support offered by the Council which has led to the team's high success rates with local contact tracing and engagement. Self-isolation of positive COVID cases and their close contacts is one of the main ways of breaking COVID chains of transmission.
Christine, another member of the team, said:
"In our training we were made aware of the local support on offer, such as the buddy service which teams up a volunteer with a lonely or vulnerable resident. As well as doing the contact tracing, which is a vital step in keeping COVID-19 from spreading, we are able to support residents at a grass roots level as we know the area and what is on offer.
"Being diagnosed with COVID-19 and having to self isolate is not pleasant - I am so grateful to the people that we contact for being so co-operative and helpful.
Anyone with any symptoms of COVID-19 should stay at home and book a free test online at www.nhs.uk/coronavirus or by calling 119.