COVID-19 - Update (8)
NHS Test and Trace
The NHS’s new test and trace service is now operational and covers England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. This will help trace people who have recently come into contact with anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19, advising them that they must self-isolate at home for 14-days to stop the spread of the virus. A request for a test then can be made online and if the test provides a negative result, the individual can then return to work/operational duty. It is anticipated that further guidance will become available in the coming days specifically in relation to the application of this for emergency service workers, however whilst awaiting further direction we must adopt the current directive which is:
- If you develop symptoms, you must continue to follow the rules to self-isolate with other members of your household and order a test to find out if you have coronavirus
- If you test positive for coronavirus, you must share information promptly about your recent contacts through the NHS test and trace service to help them alert other people who may need to self-isolate – you will receive a text or email from them if you get a positive result.
- If you have had close recent contact with someone who has coronavirus, you must self-isolate if the NHS test and trace service advises you to do so
Further to this, firefighters should inform the tracer if they were wearing PPE on at the time of any confirmed contact, in order to avoid any unnecessary periods of self-isolation.
By ‘contact’ with others, it means instances where two metres social distancing cannot be achieved such as:
- Within 2 metres contact for more than 15 minutes.
- Confined in a small area such as a car or small vehicle
- Face-to-face contact at less than one metre for one minute
The most current contact definitions concerning the test and trace service can be found here:
Until such time as further government guidance is available, local fire services will be introducing practices that will be based on local variations such as risk assessments and PPE availability. During this time, it remains vitally important that all other measures such as social distancing and good hygiene become everyday practice. Our data confirms that absence levels continue to fall within FRSs so it is evident that the good practices that were promoted back in March relating to hand-washing and social distancing, specifically pre and post incidents, during drill nights and essential training is keeping members safe. However, we must not become complacent as restrictions are lifted, in fact with test and trace, it has never been more important to ensure social distancing as much as possible in stations and on the incident ground unless it is necessary to get within two metres of colleagues. The potential negative implications of test and trace on crews, appliance availability and the ability to continue to work within your primary employment is likely to be far more significant unless we avoid close contact as much as possible.
Your local FRSA officials will be in constant dialogue with service management to ensure every effort is made to reduce risk to our members while maintaining an operational service. If you require further guidance/advice, please do not hesitate to contact your local official or FRSA HQ.