30 April 2020
Green Party councillors in Norwich have called for the establishment of a new emergency workforce to “contact trace” all cases of coronavirus when the county emerges from lockdown.
Last week the Government announced it would recruit 18,000 people across the UK to carry out testing for the virus . But Greens have pointed out that the Government’s “5 steps” for easing lockdown  ignore the World Health Organisation’s recommendation to “trace every contact” that individuals with the illness have had with other people.
The method of testing, tracing and quarantining has been shown to be successful in countries such as Germany and South Korea. Currently, the UK Government says that an app is being developed to track the spread of the virus, but Greens have warned that relying on this alone would miss many people who do not have a smartphone – many of whom will be among the most vulnerable.
Green Party councillors are calling for a change in policy to establish a fully-funded workforce to be run at local level so that full contact tracing can be carried out, and have written to the Director of Public Health Norfolk as well as to Norfolk MPs to urge this.
Greens say that local councils have the expertise and the powers to coordinate a contact tracing programme that would employ local people to identify individuals who need to go into isolation because they may have caught the virus. But the Government needs to provide funding.
Green Party councillor Jamie Osborn said “We know that public health authorities in Norfolk want better provision for contact tracing, but the Government in Westminster is failing to take the crisis as seriously as other countries and is failing to meet the World Health Organisation standards. Unlike other countries like Germany, the Government does not have a strategy to get us out of lockdown safely.
“What we are proposing is a massive task but is also very simple – make sure that everyone who has symptoms of coronavirus and everyone they could have passed it onto is contacted and told to stay at home, with appropriate support. The science shows that is essential to prevent further outbreaks and it would save lives when ending the lockdown.”
Greens say their proposal for carrying out contact tracing through staff employed at local authorities would prevent the risk of data breaches that accompany the Government’s proposed app, and would also provide hundreds of jobs, thus helping with the economic recovery from coronavirus.
The Green councillors’ calls come after the publication of a report by the party’s health spokespeople set out what needed to be done to meet World Health Organisation standards. View the full report here.