Civic chiefs in Hampshire are to roll out a local test and trace system in a bid to stop the spread of Coronavirus.
Hampshire County Council will run its own test and trace service from this week.
This means that where the national NHS Test & Trace service is unable to reach people who have tested positive, the local call handlers will take over and will contact residents who would need to self-isolate.
The news comes as the NHS Test and Trace has repeatedly come under fire as an investigation revealed that just half of close contacts given to England’s NHS Test and Trace were reached in some areas.
From the end of this week people in Hampshire will receive a phone call from a 01962 number and will be given self-isolation guidance.
The authority urged residents who received a call from this number to answer the phone.
The number will show up as a missed call and residents can then call back and talk to a call handler.
Simon Bryant, Director of Public Health at Hampshire County Council, said: “Other local authorities where local tracing has been introduced are reporting successful engagement with their local tracing services because residents can be more receptive to answering a local number, which in the case of Hampshire will be an 01962 call.
“Local call handlers have knowledge of the area and are more likely to be familiar with specific locations which will enable the early identification of links between cases – plus they will be able to offer advice on the community support available to help people to self-isolate if required, and to pick up on any welfare and wellbeing concerns, signposting to local sources of help and assistance.”
In a statement the authority added: “Hampshire is one of many local authorities that has worked with NHS Test & Trace to set up a Local Tracing Partnership which will begin rolling-out across the county from the end of this week.
“Where the national NHS Test & Trace service is unable to reach people who have tested positive within their usual timeframes, local call handlers will take over – calling from an 01962 number. Those who have tested positive will be asked to confirm their local contacts and will receive appropriate self-isolation guidance and any additional support they need.”
The authority said the new system will play “a crucial role” in protecting communities in Hampshire.
The council added: “Providing residents with access to prompt and convenient testing, and ensuring their close contacts are traced, is key to preventing further spread of the virus by breaking the chain of infection. We urge anyone who has tested positive to pick up if called.“