Warning as 237 ‘dodge’ Southend Council’s track and trace teams

Almost 240 people could be contacted on their doorsteps by Southend contact tracers after encountering someone infected with Covid-19.

The door-to-door inquiries could begin in a matter of days because the council’s track and trace team has been unable to get in touch with 237 people using phone or email.

Trevor Harp, who oversees health in the borough, called it the “ultimate remedy” to locating people.

He said: “We are doing this because we have been trying to trace a number of individuals. If we can’t get them on email or on the phone numbers they provided then the ultimate remedy to finding people is knocking on their front doors.

“This is a last resort for us and it is not something that we particularly want to do because it is labour intensive but ultimately we will try and track people down as much as we can and if that means knocking on your front door then we will knock on your front door.”

He said there was no indication the 237 individuals who need to be traced are linked to one specific venue or event.

Speaking of the information the council is able to collect on individuals for test and trace, he said the authority relies on people “being honest” when they fill in track and trace forms.

If they are unable to locate people through knocking on doors, they may have to give up tracking them.

Mr Harp added: “People may give false details for one reason or another and we can only track and trace with the information supplied. 

“It is down to people being responsible and helping us beat this pandemic.”

He acknowledged some may be concerned about giving out personal information to restaurants or pubs but insisted that everything given to businesses is protected and destroyed within 21 days.

“The reason we say 21 days is quite simple,” he added.

“It may take seven days for symptoms to appear, then two or three days for a test and after ten days we start contact tracing, after 14 days we have about a week to follow up. It would be no good for us to say destroy it after 14 days.

“There is strict guidance to businesses that the data should be retained securely not left lying around. It must be held securely. 

“I can assure you the council only uses data for contact tracing.

“We are not keeping any data longer than we need and we are not creating some sort of database.”

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