Leaders from across Cheshire gathered virtually last week to establish a strong partnership to combat the continuing threat from Covid-19.
A new outbreak response co-ordination group will ensure an effective response across all four council areas, working with the police, NHS and business leaders.
The group is made up of the leaders of Cheshire East Council, Cheshire West and Chester Council, Halton Council, Warrington Borough Council, the Police and Crime Commissioner and the chair of the Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise partnership.
The group’s work is supported by Cheshire East Council’s public health team and other key frontline staff.
The group will ensure the whole county takes a unified approach to managing outbreaks by:
· Providing collective political leadership in response to outbreaks within Cheshire;
· Ensuring Cheshire police can respond to outbreaks consistently, in partnership with local authorities;
· Sharing information on local outbreaks and lockdowns, and reviewing the spread of Covid-19 across Cheshire;
· Learning from partners’ experiences and sharing how to best respond to outbreaks;
· Protecting the local economy during an outbreak, in partnership with the Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership; and
· Supporting cooperation with Merseyside, North Wales, Greater Manchester and the West Midlands.
Each council has published an outbreak management plan for their area which sets out how they will prevent and manage local outbreaks of Covid-19, as they occur in their communities. Cheshire East Council’s can be viewed here https://www.cheshireeast.gov.uk/council_and_democracy/council_information/coronavirus/coronavirus-covid-19.aspx
Close collaboration across the county between local councils, businesses and Cheshire police will also prevent and manage local lockdowns, protecting lives and livelihoods.
Councillor Louise Gittins, chair of the Cheshire Covid-19 Outbreak Response Co-ordination Group, said: “This virus does not recognise local authority boundaries. We have a great experience of collaboration between councils and other partners, which is now more important than ever before.
We are meeting regularly to share information and learning. We will help each other tackle outbreaks as they occur, supporting all the organisations and communities, working together to defeat this terrible virus. Our collective aspiration is to make Cheshire Covid free.”
Councillor Sam Corcoran, leader of Cheshire East Council, said: “We understand that the UK has passed the peak of Covid-19 transmission, case numbers have been decreasing and some restrictions have relaxed. However, we have seen some local authorities, such as Leicester, battle against rising numbers and experience a local lockdown.
“There are nationwide worries of a second peak, especially during the winter months, so it’s vital that we are prepared. Working closely with our neighbouring local authorities and key partners will provide a strong, co-ordinated approach on any local outbreaks that may occur.
“Having clear lines of communication, sharing best practice and mutual support will enable the Cheshire Covid-19 Outbreak Response Co-ordination Group to work together and protect not only our own local communities, but all those Cheshire wide.”
One of the key challenges of the group has been to receive the necessary data and information from national agencies, enabling local public health teams to quickly combat outbreaks as they occur.
The leaders called on national government to ensure better and more timely information to local public health teams, more local control over testing, clarity over local powers, and more funding for local organisations to support their response.
The leaders also requested everyone play their part in keeping themselves and their communities safe. Protect yourself and your family and friends by getting a Coronavirus test if you have symptoms of a persistent cough, fever or loss of taste and smell by calling 119 or visiting nhs.uk/coronavirus. Protect your community by then self-isolating for 14 days if you have symptoms or if alerted to do so by a contact tracer.