Councils in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire have been handed £5.7 million of funding to help them tackle new outbreaks of Covid-19.
The government has now revealed how £300 million of funding – first announced three weeks ago – will be allocated to local authorities as part of the national NHS Test and Trace service.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council will receive £2.08 million, while Staffordshire County Council has been allocated £3.63 million, with the amounts based on need and calculated using the same formula as Public Health Grants. Cheshire East Council will receive £1.53 million.
Under Test and Trace, contact tracers track down people who have been in close personal contact with individuals who have tested positive for Covid-19, and tell them to self-isolate for two weeks.
Local authorities are expected to work with the national scheme, the local NHS and other organisations to contain outbreaks at particular locations, such as care homes, schools or workplaces.
Councils have until the end of June to come up with tailored outbreak control plans for their areas, with this work being funded through the £300 million.
Some authorities have raised concerns over the lack of government guidance and say they have struggled to gain access to the vital test and trace data on which the system depends.
National figures released on Thursday showed that only two-thirds of the 8,117 Covid-positive people transferred to the service between May 28 and June 3 – a total of 5,407 people – had been contacted and asked to provide contacts.
Abi Brown, leader of Stoke-on-Trent City Council, said the authority was still in the process of developing its outbreak control plan.
She said: “We have now had our funding allocation confirmed by central government, and we will now continue to work with our partners on our local plan. We’ll be in a position to say more about this in the coming weeks.”
Testing capacity in Staffordshire has been increased dramatically in recent weeks, with the opening of new regional testing centres at the bet365 Stadium and at Beaconside in Stafford.
A total of 820 people have tested positive for Covid-19 in Stoke-on-Trent, while Staffordshire has had 2,309 confirmed cases. There were 347 confirmed or suspected coronavirus deaths in North Staffordshire, up to May 29.
While the number of new cases is falling, fresh outbreaks are still happening. Two local care homes – one in Stoke-on-Trent and another in Stafford – reported their first cases of Covid-19 last week.
The government says local councils will be ‘central’ to the national effort to contain future outbreaks.
Health minister Nadine Dorries said: “Local authorities play a vital role in the effort to contain Covid-19 in their communities. The funding awarded today will help each local area work hand in hand Public Health England and contact tracers to focus on the containment of local outbreaks, to control the transmission of this virus.
“The public response to the rollout of NHS Test and Trace has been fantastic, and we continue to rely on everyone to play their part and follow the latest guidelines. If you have symptoms of the virus, please book a test immediately and if you are contacted by the tracing service, it is vital that you follow their advice.”