September 28, 2020

Coronavirus: Test and trace failing to reach 30% who have COVID-19

June 25, 2020

The NHS test and trace service is still failing to reach 30% of people who test positive for COVID-19, with key measures falling from last week, new government figures show.

Statistics for the third week of England's contact-tracing service show that 6,923 people who tested positive for coronavirus were referred to the service.

Of these, 70.3% were reached and asked to provide details of their recent contacts.

This means that 30% of people were not reached, a decline on last week's figure when 25% of people were unable to be contacted.

As a result of the contact-tracing effort, 30,286 people were identified as close contacts. Of these 24,734 people, or 81.7%, were reached and asked to self-isolate.

That is down from 90.9%, the equivalent figure for the previous week.

The figures cover the period between 11 June and 17 June.

In previous weeks, questions have been raised about the gap between the number of people who test positive and the number of cases referred to the system.

This week, the figures show more people were transferred to the contact-tracing system than tested positive: 6,129 people tested positive for coronavirus in England, yet 6,923 people had their case transferred to the contact-tracing system.

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The government explained this by saying there was a delay between a sample being taken, tested and reported and being passed to the contact-tracing system.

NHS test and trace does not provide statistics on how fast it contacts people after their test, but it said that of the people who were reached, 69.9% were reached within 24 hours - a fall from the equivalent figure for the previous week, which was 77%.

And of those people whose names were given to the service because they had been in close contact with someone testing positive, the service reached 81.7% of them to ask them to self-isolate.

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