As many as 20,000 people a day contacted by the Test and Trace system are not fully complying with instructions to self isolate, Dido Harding has admitted.
Baroness Harding, head of NHS Test and Trace, said that research has shown that between 40 per cent and 20 per cent of people contacted by the programme are not fully self-isolating after being instructed to do so.
Based on the rates of people contacted on a daily basis, an optimistic estimate suggests that 20,000 are not fully following self isolation instructions, MPs on the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee heard.
Baroness Harding, interim executive chairwoman at the National Institute for Health Protection, said there there could be multiple reasons behind people ignoring the rules.
These include: not understanding what they should and shouldn’t do, the practicalities of self-isolating such as not having enough food in the fridge, or needing medicine, some can not afford it and feel they need to go to work, and the mental health impacts.
Last week Harding said that people infected with coronavirus are too “scared” to get a test because of a lack of cash support from the government.
Pointing the figure at Rishi Sunak, Harding said it was up to the chancellor to throw money at the problem – adding that the rollout of rapid testing in workplaces, to help pick up asymptomatic cases, would help matters.
“The biggest challenge there, is less people not following the isolation guidance, [it] is people not coming forward for testing in the first place – people who were scared that there isn’t financial [support],” she said.
Taking last week’s total number of cases and contacts, around 700,000 – which equated to 100,000 a day – she concluded that 20,000 a day are not isolating.
Responding to questions from former health secretary Jeremy Hunt, she said: “Could I add a slight complexity to your calculation which actually might well make your number go up a bit, which is that’s the proportion that we know about.”
Baroness Harding said her biggest concern is the people who feel ill but do not come forward for testing.
Hunt said: “Thousands of people a day is enough to restart the pandemic.”
Meanwhile Baroness Harding said that there were 2,500 consultants working on the project employed in roles surrounding “technical operational process and system design”. They are paid an average of £1,100 a day, MPs heard. Going forward it is hoped that many of these roles will be transferred to civil service roles.