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Source: United Kingdom – Government Statements

  • 2 million people have now been reached by the NHS Test and Trace service since it was launched
  • Improvements to the contact tracing process will see a reduction in duplicate calls to family households
  • NHS Test and Trace completes the highest proportion of cases since the service was launched

Figures published today show that NHS Test and Trace has completed a record number of cases during this reporting week, with 85% (120,512) of people who have tested positive successfully contacted. In total, 2 million people have been reached by the service, including those who tested positive and their contacts.

Upcoming changes to the contact tracing process should also see a reduction in the number of calls received by households with children. These changes mean that under-18s in a household will not each have to be contact traced individually, as long as the parent or guardian in the household confirms they have completed their legal duty to inform their child to self-isolate. This service improvement is due to come into effect in the next week. Further changes will follow to streamline the process for adults in the same family so they can be traced via a single phone call.

The number of people reached by NHS Test and Trace has increased and people are being reached more quickly. During this reporting week, more than 120,00 people who tested positive were reached and asked for their contacts’ details, 85% of the total number of people transferred into the contact tracing system, up from 84.1% the previous week. This is the highest proportion since the launch of the service, higher than that seen at the beginning of September despite almost 10 times the number of cases. 72.7% of these people were reached within 24 hours, up from 67% in the previous week. Local tracing partnerships have been launched with nearly 150 local authorities, with more than 100 more in the process of being implemented.

During the week 29 October to 4 November, just under 150,000 people tested positive out of the 1,520,687 people tested for COVID-19, an increase of 8.1% compared with the previous week.

650 test sites are now in operation across England, including almost 300 local walk-through testing sites, meaning the average distance to a test centre has nearly halved since September to a median distance of 2.7 miles.

Nearly 35 million tests have now been processed in the UK since the service began, while increases in capacity, which is now at more than 500,000 a day, has led to improvements in test turnaround times.

NHS Test and Trace is working to expand the capacity of the network of UK test sites and laboratories even further, while the mass testing pilot in Liverpool, and the announcement this week of rapid testing being made available to directors of public health, shows the government’s ongoing commitment to making it even easier to get tested and reduce the time it takes to receive test results.

For in-person test routes, the median time taken to receive a test result has decreased from 31 hours to 27 hours. For this reporting period, 70.8% of in-person test results were received the next day after the test was taken, an almost 10% increase on the previous week’s 61.7%. For all routes combined, this week’s figure was 65.4%, compared with 38.0% the previous week. 87.9% of pillar 1 test results were made available within 24 hours, rising from 86.1% the previous week.

314,817 people were identified as coming into close contact with someone who had tested positive. Of these, where communication details were available, 78.3% were reached and asked to self-isolate, up from 78.1% the previous week. For contacts not managed by local health protection teams, 136,134 (76.0%) cases were reached within 24 hours, up from 75.3% the previous week.

The weekly statistics from the 23rd week of NHS Test and Trace show in the most recent week of operations (29 October to 4 November):

  • a total of 1,839,179 tests were processed (pillars 1 & 2), a 6% decrease from the previous week
  • 120,512 (85%) people who tested positive and were transferred to the contact-tracing system were reached and asked to provide information about their contacts, compared with 117,500 (84.1%) the previous week
  • 190,129 (78.3%) contacts where communication details were given were reached and told to self-isolate, compared with 198,293 (78.1%) the previous week
  • 70.8% of in-person test results were received the next day after the test was taken, compared with 61.7% the previous week
  • 37.6% of in-person test results were received within 24 hours after the test was taken, compared with 26.4% the previous week
  • 93.9% of satellite (care home) test results were received within 3 days after the day they were taken, compared with 92.9% the previous week, an increase of over 60 percentage points since the start of September despite a 47% increase in the number received

Since NHS Test and Trace launched, over 2.1 million contacts have been identified, and 80.2% of all contacts where communication details were given have been reached and told to self-isolate.

Latest figures also show that the NHS COVID-19 app has been downloaded more than 19.6 million times since it was launched.

Interim Executive Chair of the National Institute for Health Protection Baroness Dido Harding said:

Alongside behavioural changes, like washing hands, wearing face coverings and following governmental guidelines on social distancing, NHS Test and Trace is a valuable tool to stop transmission and drive down the R rate.

Despite increasing numbers of positive cases, NHS Test and Trace is reaching more people and doing so more quickly. Ultimately, this means we are finding the virus where it hides and breaking chains of transmission to keep people safe.

We are making another improvement to the contact tracing programme to reduce calls to the same family household which should improve the experience people are having when using the service. I’m grateful to everyone, including our partners in local government, who are working tirelessly every day to make the service quicker, more effective and more accessible this winter.

Health Minister Lord Bethell said:

Through a massive concerted effort by everyone involved in NHS Test and Trace, we have seen the number of testing sites grow to 650, testing capacity exceed 500,000 a day, and more than 2 million people successfully contacted by our contact tracers. This is a great achievement, in which all involved should feel rightly proud. Our efforts don’t end there however.

The mass testing pilot currently underway in Liverpool, and the announcement this week of rapid testing being made available to directors of public health, are proof of our ongoing commitment to expanding and improving the NHS Test and Trace programme.

MIL OSI United Kingdom