COVID-19 local outbreak control plan - communications protocol
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On 28 May 2020, the government announced its new test and trace service. From this date, everyone who is symptomatic must self-isolate and must book a test.
Anybody who is contacted by NHS Test and Trace, or by direct contact via the webform completed by the infected person, must self-isolate for 14 days. This will enable Public Health England (PHE) and local authorities to identify, contain and stop the wider spread of infection.
The following is a summary of organisational responsibilities:
- the NHS is responsible for the operation of the Test and Trace service and will manage routine cases and contacts
- the Joint Biosecurity Centre will identify those incidents that require additional intervention to prevent and control the spread of infection and will notify Public Health England who will in turn notify
- incidents may also be identified through local intelligence
- Public Health England along with Staffordshire County Council or Stoke-on-Trent City Council will lead on managing local incidents
- local gvernance arrangements will be in place
- Staffordshire County Council will lead on communications
Communications activities Back to top
Communications activities will fall into two categories:
- to support the management of outbreaks in:
- schools, further education, early years and children's social care settings
- prison and other prescribed places of detention
- high risk places, locations and communities
- community healthcare settings
- to maintain public awareness about what to do to reduce the risk of infection and what to do if they develop COVID-19 symptoms
- in the event of outbreaks to ensure that the public understand what additional control measures are required and to promote adherence with these
- in the event of outbreaks to maintain public confidence in local resilience forum (LRF) partners and our ability to manage the outbreak effectively
- to ensure that communications across all LRF partners is clear, consistent, accurate, timely and proportionate
- to target messages for key audiences where the risk of COVID-19 is higher
- it is crucial that people follow government guidance on hygiene and social distancing to reduce the risk of a second peak of infections
- anyone who is symptomatic must self-isolate for seven days and get tested
- if they test positive, they should provide information about their contacts to NHS Test and Trace
- anyone who is a contact of a confirmed case must self-isolate for 14 days
- in the event of an outbreak a range of additional control measures will be required
- Staffordshire County Council will be working with PHE and other LRF partners to swiftly identify and manage local outbreaks
- county council cabinet, senior leadership team, members and staff
- district and borough council members and chief executives
- parish councils, voluntary sector and community (Nextdoor)
- BAME communities and faith groups
- media and social media (including targeted adverts) - posts and videos
- coronavirus bulletin across Granicus updates
- My Staffordshire Xtra coronavirus update for mmbers, OMT - Monday and Thursday
- coronavirus update for members, MPs and key stakeholders - Monday, Wednesday and Friday
- weekly outbreak briefings
- School Bag or education and service usual channels
- GP text service - dependent on scale
- letter drops or posters where appropriate
Incident management communications standard operating procedure Back to top
All communications about COVID-19 Incidents should be shared with our communications team. We also operate an on-call service and the duty press officer can be contacted out of hours on 01785 895050.
We will assess communications needs on a case by case basis. It is important that communications are proportionate to the scale and the nature of the Incident. Please see the communications toolkit to assist in the decision-making process.
We will inform stakeholders about the number and progress of all incidents on aggregate with a weekly note, including a breakdown of incidents in each district or borough, in our updates to our members and stakeholders, which includes district and borough council leaders and chief executives.
We will not generally inform stakeholders about the details of all individual incidents - for example single cases in a setting, clusters of suspected cases or outbreaks that are lower risk.
We will inform stakeholders about the details of outbreaks which may be particularly sensitive as well as any other issues in their area.
The communications standard operating procedure includes a checklist of key stakeholders we will alert and keep informed during outbreaks when necessary. This includes the leader and chief executive of the relevant district or borough council.
In the event of an outbreak requiring detailed communications then:
- during office hours our communications team will contact communications teams in LRF partners, to enable them to share messages with local members and any other relevant stakeholders
- out of hours and at weekends, if there are no on-call arrangements in place, we will share information with the leader and chief executive of the relevant district or borough council for them to share with local members, as we may not have the local knowledge of individual wards
Communications checklist Back to top
- Outbreak suspected - Staffordshire County Council Comms to be alerted by local responsible organisation or PHE Comms
- IMT - Staffordshire County Council Comms to be contacted for senior officer to attend
- Staffordshire County Council Comms to lead on communications actions - decision on proactive or reactive
- Reputational risk assessed (RAG) and Comms resource identified
- Cabinet leads and SLT to be notified
- Intelligence to be shared with Comms cell
- Local member, local MP and chief executives and leaders of district and borough councils to be informed on a confidential basis where appropriate
- Statements for media, organisations staff and for example parents in the case of a school to be updated and shared with PHE
- Media and social media channels to be monitored and tailored
If you wish to print out this information, please select the document below:
- COVID-19 local outbreak control plan communications protocol (250 KB)