James O'Brien 10am - 1pm
Test and Trace hits 84% success rate after weeks of failure to meet target
3 September 2020, 10:17
The success rate for contacting Covid-19 patients through the Test and Trace system has hit 84 per cent after weeks of failure to meet its own target.
The new figure was announced by Health Secretary Matt Hancock while speaking with LBC's Nick Ferrari, and he hit back at criticism being directed at the system and celebrated the new figure - which is above the recommended target.
He told LBC: "The number of people - when they tell us who they've been in contact with - we've now managed to get in contact with 84 per cent of them and the standard we were asked to meet was 80 per cent.
"The contact tracing system is working - it can always improve and it's important that we keep working to improve it - but it is working effectively to keep the virus under control," he added.
"The combination of the Test and Trace system, the social distancing people are doing and the quarantine rules are at the moment keep the number of cases in this country flat."
Hailing the new found success of the system, Mr Hancock also announced a £500 million funding package for a new test that can deliver a result in just 20-minutes.
"There are new technologies that are coming down the track, so we can not only much more easily test people who might have symptoms or who we think might has the virus.
"But also we want to roll it out much more broadly - mass testing - to give people the confidence that if they test negative they can then go about their normal business."
It follows months of failure to meet the 80 per cent target experts say is required to keep the community spread of the virus under control.
The system came under fire when it was revealed that hundreds of contact tracers, who had been employed for weeks, were yet to make a single phone call to a person who tested positive for Covid-19 or their contacts.
It signals a shift in strategy from the Government towards mass testing - a method that was dismissed earlier on in the pandemic.
Mr Hancock added: "Over the last few month we've massively expanded the amount of coronavirus testing as.a country, and now have one of the biggest testing programmes in the world - but I am not satisfied with that.
"We know that other than social distancing, testing is one our primary defences against he virus virus, it's one of our big lines of defence - to find the people who are positive and for them to isolate an their contacts to isolate so that we stop the spread of the virus."
There are also concerns over the number of people following the two week self-isolation period due to financial hardship.
A new Government scheme in Blackburn with Darwen, Pendle, and Oldham is helping pay towards missed wages while they are asked to stay indoors, and is expected to be further rolled out if the trial is a success.
You can watch Matt Hancock's full interview with LBC below.