Coronavirus: Disease Control

Department of Health and Social Care written question – answered on 5th June 2020.

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Photo of Ian Murray Ian Murray Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what his Department's criteria are for deciding when to inform the public of the outbreak of an infections disease in a specific (a) local and (b) regional location.

Photo of Jo Churchill Jo Churchill The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care

Holding answer received on 02 June 2020

Local outbreaks are usually managed by a multi-agency Outbreak Control Team (OCT). Member organisations will be appropriate to each situation but an OCT will usually be chaired by either a Public Health Consultant from Public Health England (PHE) or the Local Authority Director of Public Health and will include experts from PHE, the local authority, the local National Health Service, the setting concerned and other wider partners. Each OCT considers the response required to each outbreak on its own merits. Informing the public about the outbreak is a key decision which is discussed and agreed by all the members of an OCT when an outbreak is considered to pose an ongoing risk to the wider public who need to be alerted to measures they need to take in order to protect their health.

Use of communication through the media may be a valuable part of the control strategy of an outbreak and the OCT will consider the risks and benefits of proactive versus reactive media engagement in any outbreak.

Further information is available in the PHE Communicable Disease Outbreak Operational Guidance at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/communicable-disease-outbreak-management-operational-guidance

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