A FURTHER £2.6m is to be spent on preventing outbreaks of coronavirus in the borough, a report has revealed.

Local leaders stress the threat from Covid “has not gone away” with funding still needed to keep on top of the virus.

A ‘Public Health Covid-19 Contain Outbreak Control Fund (COMF) – allocation and profile 21-22’report is set to be discussed by the council next Monday headed by the council’s executive member for wellbeing, Cllr Susan Baines.

The report has been drawn up by Helen Lowey, Bolton Council’s director of public health, with recommendations of how to use the rest of the COMF fund and to allocate the additional £2.6m of the total funding.

This allocation of £2.6m was received in April of this year with the public health team now seeking approval to allocate this money to different causes, which will need to be spent by March, 2022.

From June last year the council has been allocated a number of grants from the government in order to enable local management of the pandemic response, with this being the latest.

These grants go towards measures such as community testing, contact tracing, support for self-isolation, outbreak management and surveillance. More recently it has added the response to variants of concern (VOC), action on enduring transmission, the expansion of the community testing, enhanced contact tracing, vaccines rollout and activities to enable ‘living with Covid’, according to Dr Lowey.

The six areas of money allocation are Health Protection and Public Health Emergency Planning, Enhanced Services for High Risk Users, Contribution to delayed internal services, Compliance and Enforcement, Community Engagement and Resilience, and Variant of Concern ­— Contingency.

The ‘contribution to delayed internal services’ area could receive the most funding, at £1,250,000. Dr Lowey says in the report: “Bolton has and is likely to remain a place of enduring transmission for some time. Funding to support response to outbreaks and support uptake of testing and subsequent isolation support activities that are undertaken by council services and commissioned services.

“This overall sum is being further broken down in partnership with Service Directors and their teams.”

to account for specific additional activity within, adult services, children’s services, neighbourhood services.”

Public health also want £300,000 to go towards the Bolton Fund to “focus on high risk settings, communities and locations at a local level” and £200,000 for “enhanced intensive support focussed on vulnerable under-served communities, including the extremely clinically vulnerable, and groups who have been disproportionately impacted by Covid-19”.

This includes drug and alcohol addicts, domestic violence victims (families), homelessness settings responding to the long-term impacts of Covid-19, according to the report.

Cllr Baines said: “As a new school term starts, and more people return to the office, it is vital that we all remember Covid has not gone away.

“The council will continue to work with out partners to keep local infection rates down over the coming weeks and months.

“But there are simple steps we can all take to reduce infection such as washing hands regularly, wearing a face covering in crowded places and on public transport, testing regularly at home keeping rooms well ventilated.

“If you think you have symptoms stay at home and take a PCR test. I also urge anyone who has not yet done so to take up the offer of the vaccine.”

Cllr Baines is recommended to approve this allocation. The report is still currently a draft and could be subject to change.