The Test and Trace system has had its least successful week so far

Thursday, 5th November 2020, 3:53 pm
Updated Friday, 6th November 2020, 10:35 am

The government’s Test and Trace system has had its least successful week since launching, after it failed to trace more than 40 per cent of the close contacts of people who tested positive for coronavirus.

The system, run by Baroness Dido Harding, traced 59.9 per cent of contacts, meaning up to 113,000 potentially infected people were missed.

The system only performed marginally better in the previous week, tracing 60.6 per cent of close contacts overall

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Where the system is being managed by health protection teams that work within local councils, 97.9 per cent of contacts were traced and told to self-isolate.

Figures show that the average level of contact tracing is being brought down by those working in call centres or remotely.

This poor performance occurred in the same week that a record number of new Covid cases were discovered, with 137,180 people testing positive for the virus.

What is the Test and Trace system?

The Test and Trace system was introduced by the government to manage the spread of coronavirus by identifying who has the virus and who they might have passed it on to.

While it is often referred to as the NHS Test and Trace system, some people have criticised this label, arguing that the government is using the NHS brand to avoid criticism.

Of the 35 organisations listed as “data processors” for the Test and Trace system, only four are NHS bodies, another four are Public Health England bodies and one is the Ministry of Defence.

There are also four ‘Lighthouse Labs’ which were set up specifically to deal with coronavirus testing, they’re run in partnership between a number of organisations, including pharmaceutical companies and universities.

The other 22 are private companies, including Amazon, DHL, G4S, Palantir and Serco.