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Norfolk County Council will now oversee all Covid contact tracing for the county.

Following a successful bid to be a pilot in the Local-0 scheme, contact tracing will be carried out locally instead of nationally.

This means as soon as someone tests positive for COVID-19, local tracers will be telling contacts to self-isolate, instead of the national NHS Test and Trace taskforce.

Up until to now, the council had only been passed cases from NHS Test and Trace after its team had been unable to make contact over 24 hours.

But, the success of the Norfolk teams in tracing contacts, which included door-knocking, meant it had an 89 per cent success rate by November.

Dr Louise Smith, director of public health for Norfolk, said: “It is vital that we all continue to do our part in stopping the spread of coronavirus and bring the rate of transmission down in Norfolk.

“I’m delighted we have this opportunity to further reduce the spread of the virus in Norfolk. In addition to our strong contact tracing approach we also have good support in place locally to help people to self-isolate.” 

Andrew Proctor, Norfolk County Council leader, said “Our inclusion in the Local-0 pilot scheme will further enhance our ability to trace potential contacts of positive cases successfully, but also more quickly than previously.

“Contract tracing is a key element in being able to slow and stop the spread of coronavirus, allowing us to limit community spread that may otherwise go unnoticed, and this pilot scheme will help us to do this even more quickly and effectively.”

To handle the anticipated increase in cases for the team, 12 extra contact tracers have been recruited.

The NHS is calling on those in the ninth cohort, the over 50s, to have a Covid vaccination.