Coronavirus: WHO urges UK to move to local contact tracing system

The World Health Organisation has joined the refrain of consultants urging the UK authorities to shift take a look at and hint assets to local groups so as to battle Covid-19

Dr David Nabarro CBE, Special Envoy of WHO Director General on COVID-19, informed MPs on Tuesday that there was “no query that local is the one method” to get the virus underneath management.

The authorities has confronted criticism for the centralised method it has run England’s contact tracing system, delegating many obligations to non-public contractor Serco.

Groups just like the Independent Scientific Group for Emergencies (Indy Sage) have for the reason that summer season urged ministers to shift assets into local public well being groups, citing proof that they’re considerably more practical.

At a listening to of the All Party Group on Coronavirus, the WHO’s Dr Nabarro stated lockdowns needs to be used to give governments time to type out the take a look at and hint infrastructure, however that it was take a look at and hint which was essential to restarting social and financial exercise.

“The motion shouldn’t be merely doing lockdown. A lockdown principally freezes the virus the place it’s, however to do away with the virus, in our view, you need to institute the method of detection, isolation, contact tracing, and isolating,” he stated.

“That is absolutely the mainstay of coping with this: we take a look at international locations like Senegal, which have been fairly profitable. They put that type of apply into place: widespread throughout the nation, in a short time, and we’re saying it is that type of capability that wants to be in place.

“To get it proper we’re not merely saying take a look at, we’re saying it is a mixture of take a look at, enabling folks to isolate, contact tracing, and isolating contacts. It’s a complete system and it is higher all the time performed regionally since you get extra confidence between societies and responders by means of local degree organisation than doing it from the highest.

Dr Nabarro stated authorities would get “extra cooperation if it is performed by means of the constructing of belief between local actors and the responders”, whereas a centralised method would wish to depend on “coercion”.

He added: “This enterprise of going local: there isn’t any substitution for that. I utterly respect there will be rows about how a lot cash goes to local to assist folks at local degree do it. That’s regular, that negotiation needs to be there. But there needs to be no query that local is the one method.”

Experts say the UK’s present take a look at and hint system is testing too few folks and their contacts, too slowly, and that not sufficient persons are following directions to self-isolate.

The system can be exhibiting little signal of enchancment: within the final week of September, the system reached solely 68.6 per cent of shut contacts – the bottom degree to this point.

Around 25 per cent of contacts should not reached in any respect although the nationwide system, whereas local public well being groups are reaching round 100 per cent.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has claimed that the 2 methods work nicely side-by-side and that the local groups can sort out the tough circumstances.

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