MIDDLESBROUGH has been named in a pilot scheme to “track and trace” coronavirus cases in a bid to clamp down on the illness spreading.

The Government had promised to roll out a system to trace the virus by June 1.

Now the Government, as part of a £300m trial scheme, has included “Middlesbrough and Redcar and Cleveland” in a trial scheme, which will start immediately.

Plans will focus on identifying and containing potential outbreaks in places such as workplaces, housing complexes, care homes and schools.

Local Authorities – and Middlesbrough, with Redcar & Cleveland as lead authority for Tees Valley Mayoral Combined Authority – is one of 11 across the UK to figure.

Local Authorities will work closely with the Test and Trace service, local NHS and other partners to ensure testing capacity is deployed effectively to high-risk locations.

Data on the virus’ spread will be shared to inform local outbreak planning, so teams understand how the virus is moving, working with national Government to access the testing and tracing capabilities of the new service.

Local communities, organisations and individuals will also be encouraged to follow Government guidance and assist those self-isolating in their area who need help. This will include encouraging neighbours to offer support and identifying and working with relevant community groups.

Earlier this week, Security Minister James Brokenshire said an effective tracking system for covid-19 would be in place by the start of June.

There have been reports it could well rely on a team of more than 20,000 people to manually track cases and contacts over the phone and by email.

Middlesbrough has one of the highest rates of coronavirus per 100,000 head of population in the country – with the North-East having the highest regional “R rate” in the country standing at 0.8.

The TS3 area of the town has been the subject of targeted action by Middlesbrough Council after high numbers of deaths recorded in the postcode area.

The council has drawn up a three-pronged approach to try and deal with the problem there – with efforts to encourage social distancing, and a better understanding of “secondary infections” and “secondary contacts” parts of the plan.

Responding to a question about Teesside on Wednesday, NHS England Medical Director Stephen Powis said there may need to be localised interventions in case of a spike in infections.

Professor Powis added: “Clearly it’s important that we have national measures in terms of lockdown measures and social distancing – and I think that’s the best way overall to approach this.

“But as we get to a point we are talking about individual outbreaks then there will be a need for intervention around those outbreaks, and that’s no different from the Public Health response that occurs for any outbreak of an infectious disease.

“A set of measures will be set out by Public Health colleagues, whether that’s local councils or PHE, to ensure that any particular outbreak in a particular area is kept under control.

“That’s pretty tried and tested policy – and contact tracing is part of that.

“As we move forward in the months ahead that is the sort of approach around specific outbreaks in defined communities.”