Coronavirus: England weekly case numbers decline for first time since July

27 August 2020, 14:33

The number of weekly COVID-19 cases in England has dropped 8% - the first weekly decline since July
The number of weekly COVID-19 cases in England has dropped 8% - the first weekly decline since July. Picture: PA

The number of weekly coronavirus cases in England has declined for the first time since July, new figures have shown.

There were 6,115 new cases of COVID-19 in England confirmed in the week leading to 19 August, which marks an 8 per cent decline on the week before - and is the first decline since July.

Taking the figures from the government's Test and Trace system, a higher number - 7,941 people - were then passed over to the scheme following an operational delay the week before.

It comes despite the government revealing the NHS system had failed to reach its 80% target for reaching close contacts of those diagnosed with the virus.

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In England, a total 75.5 per cent of close contacts in England were reached in the same week ending 19 August.

This was a rise of 4.1 per cent from the previous week, but is still several percent away from the target.

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Speaking to LBC, Health Secretary Matt Hancock admitted the system was "not quite there" but it was "nearly" there.

He said: "One of the challenges is we want to get NHS Test and Trace up to over 80% of contacts, getting them to self-isolate - we're at just over 75 per cent, so we're nearly there but not quite there."

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Since its launch three months ago, a total of 65,398 people who have received positive test results have been transferred to the test and trace system.

From this, 77.8 per cent of contacts were reached, while a further 19.7 per cent were not.

The remaining percentage could not be reached because their contact details had not been provided.

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According to the data, which was released by the Department for Health and Social Care, local health protection teams were able to reach 95.6 per cent of the contacts in the week ending 19 August.

This can be compared to 61.6 per cent of contacts who were reached online or in by call centres.

In total, 246,262 contacts have been reached since the start of the scheme, out of 305,725 people identified as close contacts.

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Interim executive chair of the National Institute for Health Protection Baroness Dido Harding said the week marked "a milestone" after three months in service and reaching almost 300,000 people.

She said: "This country now has the capacity to test for coronavirus and trace contacts on an unprecedented scale to stop the spread of the virus.

"We will continue to build the service further to reach more and more people and to scale up our testing capacity by expanding our network of testing sites and investing in new technologies."