NHS Test and Trace records worst week for contact tracing

NHS Test and Trace has seen its worst week on record for the proportion of contacts it manages to trace.

Some 68.6% of close contacts of people who tested positive for Covid-19 in England were reached through the system in the week ending September 30, the lowest weekly percentage since Test and Trace began, and down from 72.5% in the previous week.

For cases handled by local health protection teams, 97.1% of contacts were reached and asked to self-isolate in the week to September 30.

For cases handled either online or by call centres, 62.4% of close contacts were reached and asked to self-isolate.

The data also showed that 25.7% of people who were tested for Covid-19 in England in the week ending September 30 at a regional site, local site or mobile testing unit – a so-called “in-person” test – received their result within 24 hours.

This is down from 38% in the previous week, and is the lowest weekly percentage since the week ending June 10 (18.4%).

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.

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”.

Of the 34,494 people transferred to the Test and Trace system in the week to September 30, 74% were reached and asked to provide details of recent close contacts.

This is the lowest percentage since the first week of Test and Trace (the week to June 3), when the proportion reached was 73.4%.

Overall, 51,475 new people tested positive for Covid-19 in England in the week to September 30, according to the latest Test and Trace figures.

This is an increase of 56% in positive cases on the previous week and is the highest weekly number since Test and Trace was launched at the end of May.