NHS chiefs are launching a new testing drive after just 75% close contacts were tracked down last week – despite millions being told to ‘unshield’ and return to work from this Saturday
Get our daily coronavirus email newsletter with all the news you need to know direct to your inbox
The NHS Test and Trace system has slipped backwards after a quarter of coronavirus sufferers’ “close contacts” failed to isolate last week.
The vast contact-tracing system tracked down 82% of the people who tested positive for Covid-19 in England in the week to July 22, a rise from 80.5%.
But only 75% of their close contacts were reached and told to self-isolate for 14 days – a fall from 78% the week before.
That is the fourth-lowest weekly percentage of contacts who were successfully traced in the eight weeks since Test and Trace launched.
It came as Health Secretary Matt Hancock confirmed new restrictions due to fears a second wave of coronavirus is “starting to roll across Europe”.
There is speculation the Office for National Statistics (ONS) could confirm England’s first rise in new cases since April tomorrow, after previously saying the long decline “has levelled off”.
Ministers are also preparing to reimpose quarantine tomorrow on people who come to the UK from certain countries with a spike.
Meanwhile, people who get coronavirus symptoms in the UK must now self-isolate in their home for at least 10 days, starting from today.
People contacted by Test and Trace must still isolate for a longer period of 14 days, as they could still be incubating the virus.
The new fears come just as millions are encouraged back to work, and 2.2million vulnerable people are told no longer to shield, from this Saturday.
The government has today launched a major advertising drive urging people to get tested if they have symptoms.
A stirring TV advert shows football crowds and loving grandparents alongside the lyrics: “Let’s get back to where we used to be.”
An NHS staff member delivers the message: “Let’s get tested and get back to the things we love.”
The release re-states Boris Johnson’s pledge to double testing capacity to 500,000 a day by October.
Meanwhile, the number of tests given to people without symptoms will increase to 150,000 per day by September, the Department of Health pledged.
Ministers said they met targets to carry out 100,000 tests a day by May, and have capacity for 200,000 by June, but circumstances were controversial.
Chief Executive of NHS Test and Trace Dido Harding said more than 200,000 people who could have had coronavirus have now been reached and told to isolate in total.
She added: “I urge everybody to get a free test as soon as you experience coronavirus symptoms.
“If we all continue to play our part, then together we can stop the spread of this virus.”
Only 51% of people tested under ‘Pillar 2’ – including home testing kits and drive-through centres – received their results within 24 hours last week.
Of people’s contacts who were reached, 81.7% were reached within 24 hours after being identified as a close contact.
54.7% were contacted within 24 hours of the positive individual that reported them first being transferred to contact tracing.
In total, since Test and Trace began in England, 222,589 people were identified as coming into close contact with someone who has tested positive.
Some 7.9% of people who took a Covid-19 test using a home test kit in the week ending July 22 received their result within 24 hours – up from 5.0% in the previous week.
A total of 69.0% of people received their result between 24 and 48 hours after taking the test, also up on the previous week (62.7%).
A further 18.7% waited between 48 and 72 hours for their result (down from 26.4%) while 4.2% had to wait more than 72 hours (down from 5.8%).
Across the eight-week period of Test and Trace, 3.2% of people using a home test kit have received their result within 24 hours, 47.6% between 24 and 48 hours, 38.8% between 48 and 72 hours, and 10.3% after 72 hours.
News – NHS Test and Trace slips backwards as a quarter of contacts fail to isolate