Is Test and Trace FINALLY getting better? Number of infected patients transferred to system reaches record high of 85%
- Callers reached 3,012 more Covid-19 cases than they did in the previous week
- The rise to a record high suggests Test and Trace may finally be getting better
- It has faced mounting criticism after it failed to meet its targets for weeks on end
- England and devolved administrations were forced to instigate lockdowns
- But Test and Trace was set up to stop this by detecting and isolating cases early
The number of coronavirus infected patients reached by Test and Trace has reached a record high, offering a ray of hope that the bungling system may finally be getting better.
Tracers reached 85 per cent of the 141,800 people who tested positive for Covid-19 in the week ending November 4. This is the best performance yet — but still means 20,000 infected patients, and all of their contacts, slipped through the net.
It is a rise of 0.9 per cent on the previous week, when 84.1 per cent of positive cases were told to self-isolate and asked for details of their close contacts.
The Prime Minister’s spokesman cautiously welcomed the figures today, saying they are ‘getting better’ and beginning to show an ‘improvement’.
Test and Trace — which Boris Johnson promised would be ‘world-beating’ has been struggling to meet its targets for weeks and failing to get through to many Covid-19 patients and their contacts since infections began to surge again in late September.
Its boss and former TalkTalk executive Baroness Dido Harding has been forced to bat off mounting calls for her to resign over the string of failures, which experts said led to the UK’s outbreak to get so out of control in the first place.
Despite the glimmer of hope, the beleagured system is still struggling to reach much more than 60 per cent of the close contacts of people who test positive for the virus.
The number of Covid-19 cases transferred to the contact tracing system and the number of those that were reached is shown above. They have reached a record high
But on the proportion of contacts reached the system still languished at only 60 per cent
‘NO CHANCE’ £5 TESTS BOUGHT BY NO10 WILL GET LIFE BACK TO NORMAL
There’s ‘absolutely no chance’ the Government’s new 15-minute coronavirus tests are accurate enough to get life back to normal, a leading expert warned today.
It emerged last night ministers are set to buy up to 200million of the £5 kits, which are made by US company Innova and give a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ result in a quarter of an hour.
They have been heralded as a key to unlocking the economy when the second lockdown ends, allowing people with a negative result to visit the theatre, cinema or a sports event.
But Professor Jon Deeks, a biostatistician from the University of Birmingham, warned they could be ‘dangerous’ if Brits who test negative see it as a green light to visit elderly grandparents.
Trials of the devices by Public Health England and Oxford University found they could detect up to three in four positive cases.
Although an improvement, the Department of Health figures still revealed that 13.2 per cent — or 18,600 — of those who tested positive were not reached and told to self-isolate.
The other 1.9 per cent — or 2,600 people — never provided any contact details for them to be tracked down.
The system also failed to reach almost 40 per cent — or 124,000 — close contacts of people who tested positive for the virus.
It means that thousands of infected patients, and their potentially-infected contacts, were allowed to spread the virus.
Contact tracers said they identified 314,800 close contacts of those who tested positive in the seven-day spell to November 4, a drop 0.2 per cent from the 329,100 identified the previous week.
Dr Susan Hopkins, medical adviser to Test and Trace, suggested last week that the reason so few contacts are being reached is because people are not picking up their phones to an unknown number.
Testing statistics for the system, published today by the Department of Health, also revealed more people are receiving their results within 24 hours who visit local, regional and mobile testing sites.
But less than half of all tests (except home-testing kits) are being turned around on time, with just 58 per cent providing results within 48 hours.
This is up from 36 per cent providing results in the same time frame the previous week.
All the testing figures remain streets away, however, from Boris Johnson’s promise that 100 per cent of tests would be turned around within 24 hours by the end of June.
The PM’s spokesman said: ‘We have been focused on improving test turnaround time alongside increasing capacity. These are getting better… you are seeing improvement in turnaround times for Test and Trace. It is a very large organisation that we have built in a matter of months.’
The total number of people testing positive for the virus rose in the week ending November 4