Questions answered: New test and trace system rolled out in Calderdale

A local test and trace system is being rolled out in Calderdale to try and stop the spread of coronavirus across the borough.

The new scheme follows tighter restrictions being placed on the area at the end of July, after a spike in covid-19 cases.

How does it work?

Calderdale Council has set up their own system to work alongside the national scheme in order to increase their ability to trace the virus.

It will see the borough’s own test and trace team act on data from the Government's system, to try and reach people if the national scheme has not been able to get a response.

If an individual has come into contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus, the national system will contact them via the phone, meaning it is not always possible to reach those affected.

A Covid-19 testing centre at Mixenden Activity Centre in Calderdale, one of the areas where new measures have been implemented. Credit: PA

However, the new system in Calderdale will see a team of 25 going out to into the community to bring the information to the individual's doorstep.

The contact tracers will also provide advice to people who have tested positive on how to keep themselves and others safe by staying at home and self-isolating.

Calderdale’s Director of Public Health, Deborah Harkins, said around a third of people contacted are currently not being reached by national track and trace.

We don’t know why each case of COVID-19 happens, but we do know what we can do to slow the spread. Partners in Calderdale are determined to bring our infection rate back down to the national average. Informed by the evidence gathered over many years, and learning from other areas in the current crisis.

Debs Harkins, Director of Public Health Calderdale

People pass through a Covid-19 testing centre at Bradford University. Credit: PA

What are other authorities doing in West Yorkshire?

Bradford Council are also launching their own localised test and trace scheme later this week (17 August), which will aim to ease the number of coronavirus cases in the area.

Teams of local 'contact tracers' will be trained to support the national NHS Test & Trace effort by calling, texting and even visiting the homes of people who have tested positive for the virus.

They will conduct structured interviews with people who have tested positive, designed to identify who they may have come into close contact with and who might need themselves to self-isolate and get tested.

The move is part of a drive to further embed testing and tracing across the district which will also include the testing of people showing no symptoms, doorstep testing and the setting up of more drive-in and walk-in testing stations.

The virus has not gone away and Bradford is one of the places placed on high alert because of the high number of cases we have. We know that the key to controlling COVID-19 is breaking the chain of transmission and that the best way to do that is to understand who has the virus and who they might have passed it to.

Sarah Muckle, Director of Public Health Bradford

Initially Bradford Council will redeploy council workers to staff the programme but there is the potential for this to be extended to include recent graduates, students with health backgrounds and voluntary organisations.

Credit: PA

Kirklees Council are also in the process of establishing their own localised system and are working alongside Public Health England to support the national Test and Trace scheme.

A spokes person from the Council said: "We know we can have a positive impact in Kirklees if we complement the national Test and Trace system with our own local team.

"We're in the process of setting this up and it will draw upon our local insights and knowledge to reach people the national system isn't able to.

 "This is about doing everything we can to protect as many people as possible from infection so we can save lives and avoid a local lockdown."

Credit: PA

What are the current infection rates in West Yorkshire?

The latest figures, for the seven days to August 11, are based on tests carried out in laboratories (pillar one of the Government's testing programme) and in the wider community (pillar two).


Number of new cases per 100,000 in Bradford


Number of new cases per 100,000 in Calderdale


Number of new cases per 100,000 in Kirklees

Last week (14 August) the Government announced that Coronavirus lockdown restrictions in West Yorkshire are to remain in place until further notice.

The department said the latest evidence does not show a decrease in the number of cases per 100,000 people in those areas and Health Secretary Matt Hancock had, alongside local leaders, agreed that the rules should stay in place.

Current restrictions allow people to meet others in groups of up to six individuals, or two households in outdoor public places.

Indoor swimming pools, gyms and other leisure facilities will continue to remain closed.

Venues and settings that are currently open will remain so, however the additional easements that came into place on 15 August, will not be coming into place in the affected areas.