Over 10m people told to self isolate since pandemic began, new figures show

22 April 2021, 17:22

10 million people in England have been told to isolate since the pandemic began
10 million people in England have been told to isolate since the pandemic began. Picture: PA

By Joe Cook

New NHS Test and Trace figures have revealed that over 10 million people in England have been told to self-isolate since the pandemic began.

The data shows that 3,315,972 people who tested positive for Covid-19 were contacted by contact tracers, with a further 6,685,017 close contacts successfully spoken to and told to self-isolate.

A total of 28.8 million individuals have been tested at least once since the launch of NHS Test and Trace in May 2020 - just under half of the population in England.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock tweeted his thanks to "everyone delivering our huge UK testing and tracing effort".

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However, the data also reveals that around 18 percent of close contacts were not reached, meaning 1,442,494 people may have gone on to spread Covid-19.

The percentage of contacts who are marked as reached has fluctuated as contact tracing has ramped up and the NHS has changed how it marks people as successfully contacted.

In the week to 14 April 87.7 percent of close contacts were reached, down from 92 to 93 percent for most of January and February.

The latest data comes one month on from a highly critical report from MPs, who urged the government to justify the "staggering investment of taxpayers' money" in the Test and Trace service.

In Chancellor Rishi Sunak's Budget speech, the service was given a further £15 billion boost, taking the total bill to £37 billion across two years.

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The cross-party Commons Public Accounts Committee said ministers had justified the vast expenditure by saying it would help prevent a second national lockdown - but this turned out not to work.

However, Test and Trace boss Dido Harding claimed the cost was "an awful lot less than £37 billion" and explained the hefty figure was necessary to maintain the mass testing regime in England, which she said accounted for around four-fifths of the budget.

Ministers also defended the scheme, with Transport Minister Grant Shapps telling LBC he thought the report was "extraordinary" and "complete nonsense".

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Elsewhere, figures showed that across the UK over 11 million people have now received both doses of their Covid-19 vaccine.

Sadly, a further 18 people were also recorded to have died within 28 days of a positive Covid-19 test.

But, new statistics released on Thursday showed that in March coronavirus was not the leading cause of death in England and Wales for the first time since October.

Office for National Statistics (ONS) data shows Covid-19 was the third leading cause of death in both countries that month, accounting for 9.2% of all fatalities registered in England and 6.3% in Wales.

The leading cause of death in March was dementia and Alzheimer's disease in England, accounting for 10.1% of all deaths registered that month.

In Wales, ischaemic heart disease was the leading cause of death in March, accounting for 11.8% of all fatalities.