At yesterday’s PMQs the PM promised a test, track and trace system to be up and running on June 1st, just in time the Government has planned for schools to go back.
Johnson claimed that 24,000 contact tracers had been recruited and they will hit 25,000 by the end of May.
The Government have opted for human tracers, rather than using an app, as time is pressing, and the app unproven.
If 25,000 people is enough to test, track and trace the entire population is up for debate, but it’s better than no system at all.
But does it work?
If you called these teams, these trackers will ask who you have been in contact with within the last two weeks. The trackers would make phone calls or maybe go in person to ask all these people to self-isolate too.
The problem with this method, which the app would identify, is that you don’t know the stranger you sat next to on a bus for example. There is no way to find these people and inform them they could be at risk.
The Government can’t wait for the app, so are sticking with the human controlled option.
So who are these contact tracers?
According to Private Eye, the contract tracers will be supervised by a script. These unqualified staff will join with 3,000 medically qualified contact tracers who work for Public Health England.
When the Department of Health was contacted to see if these two groups would communicate the publication was told that unqualified staff would receive “context-specific training developed by Public Health England,” but not delivered by NHS professionals.
Instead they will rely on a script to help guide their work. Another concern is the supervising staff may also not be medically trained. Job adverts for medically unqualified “customer service’ supervisors are being recruited for the call centre teams.
In a letter from Rachel Reeves to Michael Gove, her Government counterpart, she described contact tracing as a skilled role, involving the handling of highly sensitive information.
“Yet”, she said, “job advertisements for manual contact tracing staff are presented as a ‘work from home opportunity’, at an hourly rate of less than the living wage.”
Outsourcing giant Serco has apologised after it accidentally shared almost 300 email addresses of new recruits to the Government’s coronavirus contact-tracing programme.
The company is helping to sign up people to support efforts to track and trace cases of Covid-19 to help reduce the spread of the disease in the UK.
The error at Serco saw 296 addresses being included in a CC (carbon copy) section of an email rather than BCC (blind carbon copy), meaning they were visible to recipients.
It is understood that all the affected recruits had given the company permission to use their personal email addresses.
No information other than the email addresses was shared.
Serco is not intending to notify the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) following the error and is not aware of a complaint being made.
A spokesman for the company said: “An email was sent to new recruits who had given us their permission to use their personal email addresses.
“In error, email addresses were visible to other recipients. We have apologised and reviewed our processes to make sure that this does not happen again.”