Weekly coronavirus cases at their highest since launch of Test and Trace

10 September 2020, 15:22

Number of weekly cases has reached another high not seen since the end of May
Number of weekly cases has reached another high not seen since the end of May. Picture: PA
Rachael Kennedy

By Rachael Kennedy

The weekly number of new coronavirus cases has reached a high since the Test and Trace system was launched at the end of May.

In the seven days leading up to 2 September, the system recorded a total of 9,864 new infections in England - an increase of 43 per cent on the previous week.

This is also the highest weekly number recorded since the start of Test and Trace.

Despite this large figure, just 69.2 per cent of close contacts of people who tested positive were reached through the system that week, and is also the lowest percentage since the launch.

It marks a slight decrease from the 69.8 per cent from the week prior - both of which are short of the government's target to reach 80 per cent of people.

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According to the statistics, just over two thirds of people who were tested at a regional site or mobile testing unit got their results in 24 hours, which marked an increase on the previous week.

The week before saw 53.3 per cent of results returned within 24 hours.

This comes despite Boris Johnson pledging that all in-person tests would be returned within 24 hours by the end of June.

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Local health protection teams, meanwhile, were able to reach 96.6% of contacts in the week leading up to 2 September.

However, cases handled online or by call centres, just 61.3% of contacts were reached.

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The lowest proportion for any local authority was recorded in Bradford, where just 42% of contacts were reached when cases were dealt with online or with call centres.

In Peterborough, 46% of contacts were reached, while in Blackburn and Darwen the percentage sat at 48%.

For Kirklees and Nottingham, the figure was at 49%.

Such figures are for "non-complex cases" and sit across the 14 weeks since Test and Trace launched.

Despite the latest figures, Baroness Dido Harding, who is interim executive chair of the National Institute for Health Protection, insisted the system was still working.

She said: "NHS Test and Trace is working and every week we consistently reach the majority of people testing positive and their contacts.

"We have now reached almost 360,000 people who may be at risk of unknowingly passing on the virus, helping to curb its spread.

"We are doing more testing for the British public than other comparable European countries and we are adding thousands more tests a day."

She also stressed that tests should only be sought out by people who have symptoms or have been told to get tested, by adding: "We would please ask you to reconsider as it could be taking a test away from someone who really needs it."

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Her comments come after Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Wednesday there had been an increase in demand among people who were not eligible for a test.

The Department of Health and Social Care said it would update guidance to make eligibility clear.