More than two million reached by NHS Test and Trace

Latest NHS Test and Trace figures show that two million people have now been reached by the service, including those who tested positive and their contacts.

The statistics for the last week indicate that NHS Test and Trace has completed a record number of cases during this reporting week, with 85 per cent of people who have tested positive successfully contacted. This means that during this reporting week, more than 120,00 people who tested positive were reached and asked for their contacts’ details.

This is the highest proportion since the launch of the service, higher than that seen at the beginning of September despite almost 10 times the number of cases.

Local tracing partnerships have been launched with nearly 150 local authorities, with more than 100 more in the process of being implemented. Additionally, 650 test sites are now in operation across England, including almost 300 local walk-through testing sites, meaning the average distance to a test centre has nearly halved since September to a median distance of 2.7 miles.

Latest figures also show that the NHS COVID-19 app has been downloaded more than 19.6 million times since it was launched.

Baroness Dido Harding said: “Alongside behavioural changes, like washing hands, wearing face coverings and following governmental guidelines on social distancing, NHS Test and Trace is a valuable tool to stop transmission and drive down the R rate.

“Despite increasing numbers of positive cases, NHS Test and Trace is reaching more people and doing so more quickly. Ultimately, this means we are finding the virus where it hides and breaking chains of transmission to keep people safe. We are making another improvement to the contact tracing programme to reduce calls to the same family household which should improve the experience people are having when using the service. I’m grateful to everyone, including our partners in local government, who are working tirelessly every day to make the service quicker, more effective and more accessible this winter.”

Ian Hudspeth, chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: “It remains a huge concern that the national test and trace system is only picking up six out of every ten contacts of people who tested positive, when we need to reach the recommended 80 per cent benchmark to get this virus under control. Local health protection teams have reached 99.1 per cent of contacts who were asked to self-isolate, compared to 59 per cent of close contacts managed either online or by call centres.

“We need to do all we can to prevent this second wave from escalating further. Councils across the country have launched their own locally-supported contact tracing arrangements, to complement the national system and successfully trace many hard-to-reach cases. Councils continue to need clearer, more precise information on who they should be trying to contact as soon as possible, including details such as occupation and workplace, alongside the funding and extra personnel to respond quickly to outbreaks.”