Covid Falkirk: NHS Forth Valley contact tracing team to be disbanded

The 80-person team in the area handled up to 700 cases a day in March as the Omicron variant – and its now dominant B A2 subvariant – continues to have very high transmission rates.

But while the numbers have been higher than ever, there has been no increase in serious illness or death thanks to very high levels of vaccination among the population and the new antiviral treatments that are now being used for more serious cases.

Routine contact tracing is due to end on April 30.

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Contact tracing has been an important part of life for the past couple of years.

Dr Graham Foster said the changes were aimed at “returning to normality as much as possible, but retaining our ability to respond to Covid outbreaks or if new, more severe variants emerge”.

“We now know that being immune to Covid doesn’t prevent you from getting Covid, but it does prevent you from getting seriously ill,” he said.

A phasing out of most control measures was announced by Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon on March 15.

Changes include from April 18, people without symptoms of COVID-19 will no longer be asked for regular lateral flow tests.

Dr Foster said that although the test and protect team would be disbanded, there would be a core group of staff who would “stand ready to respond” at short notice if needed.

He said: ‘We expect there to be other variants of the virus and there is no way at this stage of knowing whether future variants will be less severe or more severe so we need to be vigilant. . ”

At present, the NHS Forth Valley test and protection team of 32 contact tracers are working 7.5 hours a day, seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Anyone with a contract will be given another role in the health service.

Some staff have been seconded from other NHS roles and there are also bank staff working regular shifts and Dr Foster said he was confident they would be able to return to a team if necessary.

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