British coronavirus testing and tracing system explained

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Answers to your questions

Does my whole household have to insulate?

This notice will only be issued to those who test positive. Those who self-isolate for 14 days due to close contact with confirmed cases should stay away from the rest of their household as much as possible.

What details should I provide?

People who test positive will be asked to provide all contact details for anyone in their household and anyone with whom they have recently spent at least 15 minutes, within 2 meters. This means mobile phone numbers, email addresses, landlines and home addresses.

Contact tracers hope to contact the majority of people by text or email. But in some cases, they can display warnings – although this system is likely to be too slow to be of much help.

The staff will also try to contact the companies concerned, so that if a person has traveled by plane, the carrier will be contacted so that passengers seated nearby can be reached.

What if I do not want to provide details or if those with whom I have had close contact try to persuade me not to give them?

The program is voluntary, with ministers repeatedly urging the public to “do the right thing”. If compliance is low, sanctions – such as fines – can be introduced for non-compliance.

At present, the ministers hope that the British will respond to the call that the actions of a “tiny minority” of people could ultimately free up to 66 million people from the foreclosure.

What if my test is negative?

If you have symptoms of coronavirus without being contacted by the Test and Trace system, and you have a test that turns out to be negative, the obligation to self-isolate ends.

However, those contacted through the system will be informed that they should remain in automatic isolation for up to 14 days, even if their test is negative – just in case they are still incubating the virus.

How long will the test take to return?

On average, tests currently take approximately 48 hours to return. However, those administered by drive-thru service stations returned the fastest, with 84% completed within 24 hours.

Health officials know that slow testing would make the system much less efficient. A Wednesday study suggested that if contacts are made within three days of a test, up to 15% of new cases could be reduced if four out of five people followed the instructions. This can only happen if the test results themselves are returned within 48 hours. If the deadline goes to five days, the number of new cases could decrease by only five percent, the modeling shows.

Is the app still part of that?

Health officials are still working on an app, which means that those who have been close to those who test positive will be automatically contacted and asked to isolate themselves.

But its deployment has been delayed on several occasions, with officials refusing last night to commit to any date for its launch. The Secretary of Health yesterday stressed that he was not being delayed by technical problems, saying officials had learned from the Isle of Wight pilot that the deployment of the system where people are asked to isolating oneself, even if they have no symptoms, starts better when it comes to “human form” from contact tracers.

What happens if I have already had an antigen test, which revealed that I had already had the virus, that I think I had already had symptoms or that I had an antibody test positive which suggests that I had it at some point?

Officials say it will not change the instructions issued. They say the science is not yet clear on the amount of immunity conferred by Covid-19.

Will I only need to isolate myself once?

Not necessarily. Lonely people can only be asked to do so once because they have a positive result. But those who are asked to do so as a precaution due to close contact with a confirmed case may see this happen more than once, since the risks of exposure to different people with Covid-19 may increase as the lock is released.

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