Contact tracers fail to reach thousands of South Londoners who may have coronavirus – Reuters


By Jessie Mathewson, Local Democracy Journalist and Toby PorterContact tracers are failing to reach thousands of South Londoners who may have coronavirus – with more than a third of potentially infected residents unaware they need to self-isolate.

In each arrondissement, at least a quarter of people who might be sick have not been contacted by testing and tracing – well over 4,000 to date.

Anyone who tests positive for Covid-19 should be called by contact tracers and ask who the person has been in contact with recently.

Close contacts will then be informed that they may have the virus and they should also self-isolate.

But testing and traceability teams are struggling to reach people with coronavirus in the capital to find out who they’ve been in contact with – one in five sick residents has not been contacted successfully.

In Lewisham, out of 147 who tested positive, only 116, or 79%, were contacted.

Southwark is doing just as badly – it has had 180 people with Covid-19, but only 142 have been traced – again, just 79%.

The contact rate in Bexley is slightly better at 80 percent – 137 of the 171 sick patients in the district were surveyed.

Croydon (163 sick, 132 contacted) and Bromley (126 sick, 102 called) are also both at 81 percent.

The best performing boroughs in South London, with 84% tracings, are Lambeth, Greenwich, Merton and Wandsworth – which had the most infections, with 187 cases.

Among the five worst boroughs are:

  • Westminster, where 73% of those who tested positive were contacted
  • Kensington and Chelsea, where 75% of those who tested positive were contacted

London’s most prosperous boroughs were Merton and Bromley, but even in those areas less than three-quarters (73%) of potentially infected residents were contacted.

The best borough is Camden, where tracers have reached 86% of sick people in the borough.

When it comes to tracking who sick patients might have passed it on, Lewisham is also one of the worst – only 59% of potential patients who might have been able to get it back in patients were followed up, or 195 out of 328 at – people at risk.

Greenwich found 62 percent and Bexley 66 percent. Southwark found 68 percent; Lambeth and Wandsworth 70 percent; and Bromley and Merton 73 percent.

Overall, London is doing better than the rest of England, reaching 80% of those who test positive for the disease, compared to 77% in the rest of England.

Testing and tracing also makes it possible to better track people who may have the virus in the capital – reaching 63% of residents compared to 57% in the rest of England.

Anyone who exhibits symptoms of the coronavirus – cough, high temperature, or loss of smell or taste – should self-isolate immediately and order a test to check if they have the disease.

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