The need for local, timely and high-quality data and surveillance is a critical factor in helping the COVID-19 Health Protection Board to make informed decisions.
We are lucky that the number of cases of COVID-19 has been and still is a lot lower across the Dorset Council area than in other parts of the country.
We really appreciate the hard work and commitment that our residents have shown in response to the “stay at home” guidance and social distancing advice.
The government uses the R rate to set the alert level for the country, but the R rate is not accurate with low numbers like ours. Instead of just focusing on R, we’re looking at early warning signs like the number of people contacting 111 or their GP because of symptoms, a surge or significant increase in our local number of cases, and the number of contacts that are being identified through the NHS Test and Trace service.
Surveillance and monitoring are overseen by a local Epidemiology Cell (EpiCell) which meets weekly, bringing together local intelligence and expertise from key settings/groups.
We will use this data along with other local, regional and national insights to monitor, react and respond to any changes.
Data is constantly changing, and new information is being added all the time. Our plans will be developed to take account of these changes and allow us to adapt as information about the virus evolves.
The sorts of questions we are using data to respond to in this plan includes:
- how many local cases and who are their contacts, by area, age and where they might work
- understanding where the biggest risks of transmission are and how to prevent this in people who work in settings where there is high frequency contact with the public, or in caring settings
- how we might know when we need to move from managing small outbreaks confined to single settings, to a higher alert level. This might be because of increasing numbers of cases in our community, requiring us to tell the public what we know, and advising them on additional actions to stay safe