A TEST and trace service being rolled out in Teesside to try and clamp down on the spread of coronavirus will be used to guide local plans across the UK.

Middlesbrough, with Redcar and Cleveland, are among eleven local authorities involved in the National Local Government Advisory Board to share best practice in developing outbreak control plans, tailored to local areas.

Elsewhere in the North-East, Newcastle – with Northumberland and North Tyneside is also involved.

Middlesbrough has one of the highest rates of coronavirus per 100,000 head of population in the country.

The council, which said it was unable to comment at this stage on the test and trace service, has been targeting the TS3 area of the town after it recorded a high number of deaths there.

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

Councillor Mary Lanigan, Leader of Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council, said: “I am pleased that our region has been chosen as one of the country’s 11 best practice ‘test and trace’ areas, a measure to ensure that information will be shared across the country and which is crucial to the Government’s strategy for controlling the Covid-19 outbreak.

“Although the number of cases in Redcar and Cleveland has been relatively low, Covid-19 remains a huge challenge and the health and wellbeing of our residents and visitors is central to everything we do.

"Hopefully, a successful test and trace system will mean fewer people will contract Covid-19 and fewer families will lose loved ones to this terrible virus. We will play our full part in sharing best practice to help make this happen.”

Local authorities across England are being given a share of £300m to develop their plans, which will support the national rollout of the test and trace service.

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.

Local authorities have been told to start immediately on the plans, which will focus on identifying and containing potential outbreaks in workplaces, housing complexes, care homes and schools.

Guidance issued by the Department of Health and Social Care says councils will need to ensure testing capacity is deployed effectively to high-risk locations, and will need to work closely with the test and trace service, local NHS and other partners.

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

Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen said: “I am delighted to see our local authorities will be part of the Government’s new local test and trace programme to combat the coronavirus.

“As mayor, my number one priority is the health, wellbeing and safety of everyone in Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool. Testing and tracing is essential if we are to defeat the virus and having a local programme to do this is something I have been pushing for.

“While testing and tracing is vital, everyone must continue to play their part if we are to beat this deadly virus; so stay alert to keep the spread of the virus under control and save lives.”