Date: 22nd July, 2020
Public Health England, Swindon Borough Council, Wiltshire Council and Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service are working together to support firefighters affected by an outbreak of COVID-19 at Swindon fire station.
Three firefighters have tested positive for the virus and, following advice from Public Health England, any other staff who develop symptoms will be tested. Staff who have been identified as close contacts of the cases have been called and are being asked to self-isolate.
The fire station remains open and is following the existing national guidance for non-clinical settings, such as reiterating guidance on social distancing and hygiene to limit spread.
Additional infection control measures are in place while the outbreak is being managed and investigated.
Those staff affected are recovering and are following the Government’s self-isolation guidance.
Assistant Chief Fire Officer James Mahoney said: “We appreciate that this will be of concern, and I want to reassure people that we have had stringent procedures in place since the start of the pandemic to protect staff and members of the public at incidents, including the wearing of appropriate PPE at all times.
“In line with public health guidance, all staff who have been in close contact with the those who have tested positive have been asked to self-isolate for 14 days.
“The Service has invoked its business continuity arrangements to ensure that the outbreak is contained and managed. We have established processes to ensure that our emergency response is maintained at Swindon fire station and elsewhere, and anyone needing the help of the fire and rescue service should be assured that we will still respond to 999 calls with the required resources.”
Dr Charlotte Bigland, Consultant in Health Protection at Public Health England South West, said: “PHE South West is working closely with Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service to provide public health advice to stop the virus spreading.
“Everyone should be following social distancing advice to prevent the spread of the virus.
“Good hygiene is the best prevention and there are some simple steps you can take to protect you, your family and colleagues by washing your hands regularly and thoroughly and if you cough, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue.
Steve Maddern, Director of Public Health for Swindon, said: “The wellbeing of the local community is always our priority and our thoughts are focused on the recovery of those testing positive.
“We are working with health colleagues to do everything we can to minimise the spread of the virus in Swindon. We all have a part to play in reducing the risk of infection and must continue to follow social distancing guidance.
“We have developed local outbreak plans to supplement and support the national test and trace service, and to ensure that Swindon can respond swiftly to help manage any local outbreak or hotspot before it spreads too far. We are working as fast as we can with all our local partners to help our communities get back up and running again safely.”