Torbay’s Director of Public Health, Dr Caroline Dimond, has published her annual report and this year there could only be one theme; Torbay’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In Torbay, the response to COVID-19 was underway on 24 January 2020, before the UK had its first known case, to give time to plan ahead for a possible, but at this stage unknown, viral threat.
In a fascinating diary, recorded as the pandemic unfolded across the world, Caroline shares her journey leading us through one of the world’s biggest ever crises.
On 1 March 2020, Caroline wrote: “… we were alerted over the weekend to our first cases, in people returning from Italy, with the complexity of one of the individuals being the first paediatric case in the country. After an early start on Monday, 2 March thanks to the efforts of our emergency planning team and from IT and buildings services, by lunchtime we had a fully functioning incident response centre.
“Our outbreak response had begun in earnest. Diaries were cleared and we worked together with our key partner, Public Health England (PHE) to try and contain the outbreak. I immediately dispatched two of my team to support the school connected to the cases involved, help with contact tracing to prevent spread, to consider particularly vulnerable students, and generally support the head with queries from parents and staff. People at this time were pretty frightened of this unknown virus and concerns rose in teachers and parents.”
In her report Caroline reflects on the impact the pandemic has had on our economy, community, health and inequalities, and what we can learn from it. She also recognises the community spirit that rose up across the Bay to help the thousands of people who suddenly found themselves shielding, self-isolating or suffering otherwise from the impact of the virus.
This annual report is the last from Caroline as she retires this week, with Dr Lincoln Sargeant taking on the role from her.
Caroline adds: “It has been both an enormous privilege and challenge to lead the council’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The response from people across the Bay, and particularly our community and voluntary organisations, to help those most in need has been incredible. I thank every single person who has given their time to help others, it says so much about what a special place Torbay is.
“I am so pleased for all of us that as I leave my role we are all looking to steadily and safely leave lockdown restrictions. I will of course leave you with my ‘trademark’ message to THINK COVID and remember, hands face space.”
The Director of Public Health Annual Report is a professional statement on the health and wellbeing of Torbay’s population and includes future recommendations to improve health and wellbeing. To read the full report visit www.torbay.gov.uk/public-health-annual-report.
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