England to launch coronavirus 'test and trace' system as lockdown eases

Grant Boone
May 28, 2020

Health Secretary Matt Hancock sets out the NHS Test and Trace service at the Downing Street coronavirus briefing.

During No 10's daily briefing he said: "We will have local lockdowns in future where there are flare-ups and we have a system we are putting in place with a combination of Public Health England and the new joint biosecurity centre, along with the local directors of public health who play an absolutely crucial role in the decision-making in the system, to make sure if there is a local flare-up there is a local lockdown".

But they will not be given a test themselves unless they develop symptoms and even those who have already tested positive for the virus or for antibodies that show they had it in the past will not be exempted from self-isolation.

They then will have to self-isolate.

The whole track and trace strategy will be with us for a long time as we learn to live with Covid-19.

"We must all follow the NHS test and trace instructions as this is how we control the virus, protect the NHS and save lives".

"And so local lockdowns will be part of the future system that we put in place as part of the NHS test-and-trace system".

If you test positive for COVID-19, you will be contacted by someone from the NHS test and trace team who will take down the details of anyone you know you have been in contact with recently.

"We will be asking people to stay at home".

Their household members do not need to isolate at this point.

HEALTH Coronavirus

Secondly, you must then book a test online or on the phone, and not leave the house for anything else.

Anyone with symptoms are being instructed to isolate for seven days while they await their test result.

If it is negative, the contact must still complete their initial 14-day isolation period.

"Now, the Secretary of State does have the public health legal ability to impose fines and penalties but that's not how we're launching this". But Mr Hancock revealed that the testing capacity is now at 161,000 tests a day.

Asked if the admission by Boris Johnson's aide Dominic Cummings that he drove his family to Durham during lockdown hampered the message for people to comply with the rules, Baroness Harding said: "I'm not going to get drawn into any individual".

The total number of people who have tested positive for the coronavirus in the United Kingdom stands at 267,240.

Prof Newton said the standard symptoms to report were fever, continuous cough and a loss of smell or taste, but said "we need to have a pretty low threshold for offering people tests".

A further study from University College London found that contract tracing plus other measures such as social distancing and hand hygiene could drive down the number of new infections by 5-15%.

"NHS Test and Trace is a big part - not the only part - but a big part of the answer to that question".

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