A PLAN to cope with a localised outbreak of Covid-19 in Somerset has been drawn up.

The Local Outbreak Management Plan outlining how the authorities will react to a local coronavirus outbreak in Somerset has been formally endorsed.

Somerset Local Outbreak Engagement Board heard at its first meeting on Friday that cases in the county remain low compared to other parts of the country.

But it was stressed that it is important for local leadership to endeavour to prevent and manage the spread.

The plan sets out how the county council and partners will actively engage with Somerset residents, businesses, visitors and communities to keep cases down and reduce further spread if outbreaks occur.

It was drawn up after all local authorities were tasked with producing Local Outbreak Management Plans as the focus moved away from national lockdowns to a local response.

Cllr David Fothergill, who chaired the virtual meeting, said: “Our plan clearly sets out how the county council and our partners will work to prevent local outbreaks and, if any do occur, how we will manage those clusters of infection.

“The board has now endorsed the plan and recognised the immense amount of hard work involved in its creation.

"We must all play our part and follow the rules so we can significantly reduce the risk of catching the virus and, importantly, protect those at most risk of more serious health consequences.

“We need to prevent the spread of coronavirus together, and we will continue to work closely with communities, partners and businesses to help keep residents and visitors safe and prevent further outbreaks.”

Trudi Grant, Director of Public Health at Somerset County Council, said: “There is currently no vaccine and no treatment for COVID-19 – the best chance we have of preventing and managing the virus is our behaviour.

"We can all play our part in preventing this horrible disease from spreading from one person to another.

“This is through simple measures we should all know now – keeping our distance from anyone outside of our household or ‘bubble’, washing our hands regularly and self-isolating if you start to show symptoms. Have a test if you have symptoms.

"Please also wear your face covering where necessary – on public transport, in shops and in enclosed spaces.

"All of us sticking to the infection control measures will help us to prevent spread of the virus and save lives."

The plan involves:

•Prevention – working with communities, groups and settings to emphasise infection control measures and reduce risk;

•Identification – using local data and intelligence to monitor the spread of infection;

•Management - taking the necessary action needed to contain outbreaks and clusters;

•Learning – to inform future action.

She added: "We manage outbreaks of infectious diseases all the time, for example in the cases of norovirus, meningitis, food poisoning etc, but prevention is always best, and our joint efforts to stop spread of disease in the first place will help save lives.”

She said it is vital to engage with the Test and Trace service

Anyone who needs coronavirus-related help and advice during the pandemic can phone 0300 790 6275 (open seven days a week 8am to 6pm).