Lancashire declared a Covid "enhanced response area" - this is what it means
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Health Secretary Matt Hancock made a brief announcement on the subject in the Commons just before 12.30, urging people in the county to take part in regular testing. Local public health leaders are urging people to get a lab-analysed PCR test - whether they are showing symptoms or not.
The status has been conferred on the Lancashire County Council and Blackburn with Darwen Council areas - but not Blackpool. The move to being designated an enhanced response area was last week requested by the county council's director of public health, Dr. Sakthi Karunanithi.
Support will be offered to drive vaccine uptake in cohorts which are already eligible - as of today, that is the over-25s, except where younger people fall into another eligibility category such as particular vulnerability to Covid or living with someone at heightened risk from the virus.
The NHS in Lancashire and South Cumbria has clarified to the LDRS that over-18s in the county can receive their first jab only if they fall into an eligible group - including on the vaccine bus touring East Lancashire
The LDRS has seen details sent to local authority leaders this morning of what enhanced area status entails. There will be no ban on travel between different corners of the county, but Lancashire residents will be advised to exercise "particular caution" when meeting people from outside of their household or support bubble and, wherever possible, “minimise travel in and out of affected areas”, meet people outdoors rather than in and work from home.
The package for enhanced area status will also include:
***A rapid response team deployed to support local authorities to plan and coordinate their ground campaign - which can include support measures such as testing and door-to-door visits to engage with residents.
***The ability to request support from Military Aid to the Civil Authority, including for the measures above.
***Support to drive vaccine uptake across eligible cohorts by upweighting resources for operational delivery of the vaccine programme.
***Local authorities being able to approach their local police force, Health and Safety Executive and other enforcement agencies to seek support in compliance and enforcement as necessary.
***Subject to agreement, the ability to designate a Vaccines Champion to ensure all available resources from the vaccines programme are harnessed to support access and uptake in local areas, linking this surge activity to the community engagement on testing.
***Specialist communications support to support increased awareness and focused engagement with disadvantaged groups.
***Supervised in-school testing.
***Wastewater testing samples prioritised for sequencing.
***Allowing local directors of public health to recommend additional control, measures in educational settings.
***Supporting spot checks to ensure workplaces are Covid safe.
The Department for Health and Social Care has also confirmed surge testing and enhanced contract tracing will also be made available.
Addressing MPs in the Commons, Matt Hancock said: “I can tell the House that today, working with local authorities, we are providing a strengthened package of support based on what’s working in Bolton, to help Greater Manchester and Lancashire tackle the rise in the Delta variant that we’re seeing there.
“This includes rapid response teams, putting in extra testing, military support and supervised in school testing. I want to encourage everyone in Manchester and Lancashire to get the tests on offer.
“We know that this approach can work, we’ve seen it work in south London and in Bolton in stopping a rise in the number of cases.
“This is the next stage of tackling the pandemic in Manchester and in Lancashire, and of course it’s vital that people in these areas – as everywhere else – come forward and get the jab as soon as they’re eligible because that is our way out of this pandemic together.”