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Saving lives and protecting jobs key to plan

Stopping the spread of coronavirus and protecting vulnerable people are at the heart of Middlesbrough's Covid-19 response plan.

The Council has developed its Local Outbreak Control Plan as part of the NHS Test and Trace programme.

Published today, the plan focuses on preventing local spikes. Stopping the spread of infection will save lives and help the town's economy recover.

The Council has launched a new campaign reminding residents of what they can do to keep everyone in Middlesbrough safe.

Every home in the town will receive a leaflet with details on symptoms and how to book a test.

And a temperature screening programme will be rolled out this week to raise awareness of one of the main symptoms.

Middlesbrough Mayor Andy Preston said: "It's a sad fact that more people around Middlesbrough will die from Covid over the coming months.

"We've got to minimise that and save as many lives as we can.

"By stopping the spread we can also save jobs and help families.

"I know people have made loads of sacrifices during lockdown. But we can all still do so much to protect each other and stop local outbreaks in Middlesbrough."

The Council was one of the first 11 authorities in England asked to produce a local plan. It received around £1.6m from a £300m Government fund for local outbreak planning.

The plan, details of which are published on the Local Outbreak Control Plan website, explains the arrangements for putting extra testing in place, local contact tracing systems and the support for vulnerable people in the event of an outbreak.

The Council's prevention strategy focuses on communications and engagement, targeted work with complex settings and the promotion of testing.

A regional test centre opened in Middlehaven in June and the Council will soon have the use of a mobile testing station.

The plan outlines the measures in place in care homes and schools.

It sets out protocols on how the Council would work with Public Health England and the NHS to take further action to contain any outbreaks in specific settings, locations or communities.

Only as a last resort would enforcement action be taken.

As part of the plan, Mr Preston chairs Middlesbrough's Local Outbreak Control Board.

The board oversees communication to the public and would liaise with Government ministers in an outbreak, if required.

MPs Simon Clarke and Andy McDonald, Cleveland Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger and Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen also sit on the control board.  

Simon Clarke MP said: "Middlesbrough Council is among 11 trailblazing local authorities in England to first develop and publish its Local Outbreak Plan.

"The pace in which this has been achieved is a credit to the council officers who have worked tirelessly to get this right for the people of Middlesbrough.

"This is about keeping people informed, promoting testing, planning ahead and having effective responses in place in case there are any signs of an outbreak as lockdown restrictions are relaxed."

Andy McDonald MP said: "Firstly, I want to pay tribute to the tremendous amount of work carried out by Middlesbrough Council staff throughout this outbreak.

"Their dedication has kept residents informed and supported and now we are seeing the tentative re-opening of our shops and facilities - this has been made possible by the superb efforts of our businesses and of Council staff.

"We need everyone to look after themselves, and each other, if we are to prevent further outbreaks.

"This is not over and we must all remain vigilant and adhere safety guidelines including maintaining social distancing."

Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger said: "As lockdown restrictions ease, it's really important that agencies don't become complacent about the need to spring back into action if a local outbreak occurs.

"This is particularly pertinent in Middlesbrough where infection rates were high.

"The plan Middlesbrough Council have created will ensure residents have necessary information about testing and it sets out detailed plans for protecting the most vulnerable.

"Council staff will have the full support of my office should this plan ever need to be put into action."

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: "There has been a monumental local and national fight to win the battle against the coronavirus, and we are winning it.

"This is thanks to the people of Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool who have followed the government guidelines and taken extra measures to stop the spread of the virus and I want to give credit and thank every single one of them for doing their bit.

"However it is vital we continue to plan and prepare for any local outbreaks in the future, so it is really important that we all work together across the region to put the necessary steps and procedures in place.

"My absolute priority during this pandemic has been to protect everyone's health and safety and ensure local businesses and local workers have the support they need, and I will continue to do that as move to the next stage of fighting this virus."

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