People who test positive for Covid could be missing out on cash grants

Failure to tick a box could mean people who test positive for Covid-19 are missing out on vital support, according to health chiefs in Northumberland.

By James Harrison
Monday, 13th September 2021, 12:59 pm
Updated Monday, 13th September 2021, 1:07 pm
Liz Morgan, director of public health at Northumberland County Council.
Liz Morgan, director of public health at Northumberland County Council.

Up to £500 is available to anyone forced to self-isolate either as a result of catching coronavirus.

But local authority bosses are growing concerned that some of the most vulnerable cases most likely to need the extra help are not getting the full aid available to them.

“There is a mechanism on the test and trace system, when you respond to your positive case through the test and trace app, to identify whether you need additional support or not,” said Liz Morgan, director of public health at Northumberland County Council.

“What we’re finding is that when we’re contacting cases, they’re not necessarily ticking that box.

“So what we’re looking at is whether we need to take a much more systematic approach to contacting cases – not just the ones that come to us to be contact traced, but actually all of the cases that we’ve had in Northumberland, just to make sure that people have got the support they need to self isolate.”

According to NHS guidance, anyone who develops Covid-19 symptoms should self-isolate ‘straight away’ and book a PCR test.

Since August 16, fully vaccinated adults are no longer required to self-isolate following a close contact with a confirmed case.

However, anyone in Northumberland who is required to self-isolate is potentially entitled to up to £500, either from the Government’s National Test and Trace support payment, or from the county council discretionary scheme.

Ms Morgan added she hoped her team would be able to offer more direct help to people in the county identified as possible Covid cases, but also warned the burden of rising infection rates could make this difficult.

She said: “We are very wary of the ability of these cases to escalate really quickly – we could be overwhelmed quite quickly if we’re not careful.

“There is the ability to just select which cases you contact, so we’re just coming up with some metrics to think about what postcodes that will be [and we will] probably consider deprivation, case rates and vaccination uptake as part of those metrics.”