The Test and Trace system has reached the lowest ever proportion of contacts of people who tested positive for Covid-19 in England.
Four in 10 close contacts of people who tested positive are still not being reached by the system, at the same time as it recorded its highest weekly number of positive cases.
A total of 137,180 people tested positive for Covid-19 in England at least once in the week to October 28 – an increase of 8% on the previous week and the highest weekly number since Test and Trace was launched at the end of May.
According to the latest figures, 59.9% of close contacts of people who tested positive in England were reached through the system in the week ending October 28.
- 97.9% for local health protection teams
- 58.5% of cases managed online or by call centres
This is the lowest since Test and Trace began and is down from 60.6% for the previous week.
Over Harding appointment to lead the test and trace system Jolyon Maugham Tweeted: “Dido Harding didn’t pip other candidates to the post at the interview. There weren’t any other candidates. She was just handed the job. This stuff is not fair and it’s time it stopped.”
For cases managed by local health protection teams, 97.9% of contacts were reached and asked to self-isolate in the week to October 28.
For cases managed online or by call centres, the figure was 58.5%.
Just 26.4% of people who were tested in England in the week ending October 28 at a regional site, local site or mobile testing unit – a so-called “in-person” test – received their result within 24 hours.
This is up from 22.6% in the previous week.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson had pledged that, by the end of June, the results of all in-person tests would be back within 24 hours.
24 hour results
He told the House of Commons on June 3 that he would get “all tests turned around within 24 hours by the end of June, except for difficulties with postal tests or insuperable problems like that”.
Before the new figures were published, Justice Secretary Robert Buckland said the month-long lockdown that began in England on Thursday will be used to “redouble our efforts” to expand the NHS Test and Trace programme.
Speaking to BBC Breakfast, he said it is also vital to increase the speed at which test results are returned.
“Lots of people are receiving them the next day which is good, but there are still too many people who are having to wait for days and we are going to continue to work to speed that up,” he said.
“We’ve got to use this time not only to deal with Test and Trace but also to prepare for when we get a vaccine.”
He said any future vaccination programme would prioritise those in greatest need “so we can avoid a stop and start scenario where we’re having to go in and out of lockdowns”.