Coronavirus: NHS Test and Trace sees highest cases since launch after nearly 150,000 weekly positive tests

Connor Parker
·3 min read
Cases continued to rise during the first few days of England's second national lockdown. (PA)
Cases continued to rise during the first few days of England's second national lockdown. (PA)

A total of 149,253 people tested positive for COVID-19 in England in the week to 4 November, an 8% increase on the previous week, the latest data from NHS Test and Trace shows.

The numbers are the highest since NHS Test and Trace was launched at the end of May and is an increase of 8% in positive cases on the previous week.

Some 60.4% of close contacts of people who tested positive for COVID-19 in England were reached through the system in the week ending 4 November, according to the latest figures.

This is up very slightly from 60.2% in the previous week and is also just above the all-time low of 60.1% for the week to 14 October.

For cases managed by local health protection teams, 99.1% of contacts were reached and asked to self-isolate in the week to 4 November.

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For cases managed either online or by call centres, 59.0% of close contacts were reached and asked to self-isolate.

Of the 141,804 people transferred to the test and trace system in the week to 4 November, 85.0% were reached and asked to provide details of recent close contacts.

This is the highest weekly percentage since NHS Test and Trace began, and is up from 84.1% in the previous week.

Some 13.2% of people transferred to Test and Trace in the week to 4 November were not reached while a further 1.9% did not provide any communication details.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson had pledged that by the end of June the results of all in-person tests would be back within 24 hours.

He told the House of Commons on June 3 that he would get “all tests turned around within 24 hours by the end of June, except for difficulties with postal tests or insuperable problems like that”.

NHS Providers deputy chief executive Saffron Cordery said the new data shows there ias “clearly still room for improvement” on returning test results to people more quickly.

She added: “The number of people who tested positive for Covid this week has increased by 8%, with almost 150,000 cases across the country.

“Despite this, it is worrying to see fewer close contacts identified than the previous week, and with over 124,000 not reached this week it highlights how far the system has to go to be effective.

“It is heartening to see test turnaround times improving, but with only 19% of the 1.2 million Pillar 2 test results returned within 24 hours this week, there is clearly still room for improvement.

“We remain hopeful that the number of people testing positive for Covid will reduce as national lockdown continues, however are realistic that winter is going to be extremely challenging, particularly without a world-class testing and contact tracing system.”

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