By Daniel Wood
Kirklees Council is looking into setting up their own localised test and trace scheme to battle Covid-19 to help harder-to-reach communities.
Calderdale is also looking into doing a similar thing.
A council spokesperson said it was in “the very early stages”. However, Council Leader Cllr Shabir Pandor said the authority would look “very seriously” at anything that can help to target action and tackle the virus.
Concerns have been brought up regarding the government’s national programme to test and trace people that have come into contact with the virus.
A localised tracing system has already been set up by Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council after growing concerns over bursts of the virus spreading in the area.
Blackburn with Darwen has the highest rate in the country, with 91 cases per 100,000 residents. They are followed by Leicester, Oldham, and Bradford on that list.
Calderdale is ninth on the list with 30 cases per 100,000. Meanwhile, Kirklees has dropped out of the top ten as they are currently twelfth with 21 cases per 100,000.
The governments reasoning for re-imposing lockdown restrictions on Kirklees has been questioned due to the borough’s infection rate figures decreasing at a decent rate in recent weeks.
It was on the eve of the Eid weekend when the surprise government announcement happened regarding the restrictions, and the affected areas included Greater Manchester, Blackburn with Darwen, Burnley, Hyndburn, Pendle, Rossendale, Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees and the City of Leicester.
Cllr Shabir Pandor called the timing “insensitive”.
He added that he could not see a clear rationale for the decision that the Government made due to the reducing rates in the borough, and he felt as though Kirklees had been “singled out without any reasonable or solid evidence base”.
A council spokesperson outlined the authority’s plans and said: “We’ve worked closely with Public Health England on the Test and Trace system in Kirklees since its introduction, helping to make sure as many people as possible are contacted.
“We’re committed to doing everything we can to protect people in Kirklees and to bring our infection rates down.
“So we are in the very early stages of looking at the benefits of establishing our own contact tracing system to complement the national system.
“In particular, we would like to use the data available to identify where in Kirklees has it been harder to contact people, so we can take target action to improve this.”
Leader of Calderdale Council, Cllr Tim Swift, said their system is being developed to build on the national system and is expected to be in operation “very soon”.
He stated that testing in the area had been doubled in the last week, and the focus is on the areas with the highest infection rates.
Cllr Tim Swift also stressed that local contact tracing services will be available soon, as he said: “We are also working with community groups and Public Health England to develop a local contact tracing service, which will build on the national contact tracing system and we expect to be up and running very soon.”
People in the UK are still urged to social distance, wash hands regularly, and stay at home and get tested if you show any Covid-19 symptoms.