For several months, the Green Party has been calling for a ‘community shield’, a locally based Test-Trace-Isolate regime based around our county public health team. Communities that have put such protective shields in place, notably Ceredigion in Wales, have dramatically lower infection rates and deaths from Covid-19 than surrounding communities.

We were told to await the government’s Track and Trace system but this centralised and privatised system is failing with delayed test results, poor rates of tracing, and low levels of compliance. We are disappointed that our local public health expertise is not being fully used, with their role being reduced merely to containing local outbreaks.

While we welcome the fact that there is now capacity to carry out 1000 tests a day at Gloucestershire’s two test sites, it is deplorable that our local authority is still not getting the test results back consistently or in timely fashion.

Today, we are repeating our call for Gloucestershire County Council, Gloucestershire Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust, and the clinical commissioners to work with district council environmental health departments and GPs to set up a locally based, trusted and reliable contact tracing system. It remains our only safe route out of lockdown and, with people mixing more freely and a rising rate of viral spread, is urgently needed.

Molly Scott Cato

Formerly Green MEP for South West England and Gibraltar

But still a Professor of Economics