Two councils will be piloting a local contact tracing initiative in a bid to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Watford Borough Council and Three Rivers District Council will be the first councils in Hertfordshire to pilot the new scheme, which will go live this week.

How does it work?

People who test positive for coronavirus and do not respond to calls from the national tracing scheme within 24 hours will be contacted by Watford council’s environmental health team.

The team will try to trace the origins of the infection by speaking with people and finding out where they have been over the past few days.

Working then with Hertfordshire County Council, Public Health England and the NHS national test and trace system, the information will be used to advise others of their possible infection and to help them self-isolate.

Where potential sources of infection are found, the team and partners will work to ensure no additional infections occur.

They will also provide residents and their families with essential information on preventing further spread of the disease and signpost them to the Herts Helps scheme for support with shopping and prescriptions collections should they need it.

The local pilot which supplements the national programme is aiming to improve the overall effectiveness of the scheme by using local knowledge.

Its findings will be used to help inform the roll out of the scheme across the whole of Hertfordshire.

What did councils say?

Mayor of Watford Peter Taylor said: “We have a fantastic Environmental Health team here at Watford Council who have been highly proactive across our town with businesses, residents and community groups.

“They have helped them adapt their processes and operations so people are safe and protected as much as possible. It is a testament to their professionalism that we are piloting this scheme for the county. If you are unfortunate enough to become ill, please do take the call and help us to keep Watford as safe as possible.’

Cllr Sarah Nelmes, Leader of Three Rivers District Council, said: “We fully support this pilot local contact tracing scheme rolled out on our behalf by Watford Borough Council, who manage this Council’s commercial Environmental Health services. The proactive response of the Environmental Health Officers in keeping businesses, residents and visitors to Three Rivers safe is already evident and this scheme will only assist further.”