The test and traceability system failed to reach nearly 250,000 close contacts

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The government’s testing and tracing system has failed to reach nearly a quarter of a million close contacts of people who have tested positive for the coronavirus, a new analysis has revealed.

Private companies Serco and Sitel have failed to make contact with 245,481 contacts in England online or from call centers for four months – missing nearly 40% of contacts, according to the figures.

SAGE warned that the system must call at least 80 percent of all contacts and ensure they self-isolate, in order to stop the spread of infection.

The Labor Party said figures, released by the Department of Health, show testing and traceability “on the verge of collapsing” and underscore the need for a brief nationwide lockdown to allow the government to fix the system.

And just two days ago, NHS Providers, which represents NHS Trusts across the country, criticized the system, saying it was “deeply unfortunate” that there was “still clearly a long way to go. that our test and traceability system is adapted to its needs ”.

An NHS tracking and traceability staff member holds COVID-19 test kits at a testing center amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in Bolton, Britain on September 17

The government defended the system, saying Test and Trace “broke the chains of transmission” and told 900,000 people to self-isolate.

Boris Johnson promised in May that the system, which cost £ 12 billion, would be “global”.

He also pledged to release all coronavirus test results within 24 hours by the end of June, but that promise has not been kept.

Experts say the rapid turnaround of kits is vital to ensuring that infected people and their close contacts are quickly reached and urged to self-isolate.

A successful tracing program has long been hailed as a way to ease foreclosure measures.

Labor analysis of official figures released this week showed that more than 26,000 people in the week to October 7 have not been contacted in the north-west of England, where the Liverpool area and Lancashire have been dives under the most severe restrictions.

A graph showing the proportion of close contacts who have been advised by the NHS Track and Trace service to self-isolate within 24 hours in England

A graph showing the proportion of close contacts who have been advised by the NHS Track and Trace service to self-isolate within 24 hours in England

The PM has threatened to impose the Level 3 measures on neighboring Greater Manchester, even though local leaders do not agree as they demand more financial support.

Shadow Cabinet Minister Rachel Reeves said: ‘We are at a crossroads in our efforts to fight the coronavirus, and these numbers are a new low for a testing and tracing system on the verge of collapse .

“The government is wasting hundreds of millions of people in a system that doesn’t seem to work or that doesn’t even use common sense.

“The Prime Minister must act now to reverse this trend. That’s why Labor is calling for a short and abrupt cut-off to fix tests, protect the NHS and save lives.

The average time it takes for a contact to be identified and then invited to self-isolate by Test and Trace has decreased since the week ending September 23. The screening system is overwhelmed by an increase in positive cases.

The average time it takes for a contact to be identified and then invited to self-isolate by Test and Trace has decreased since the week ending September 23. The screening system is overwhelmed by an increase in positive cases.

More coronavirus-positive patients transferred to Test and Trace than ever before (as shown in the graph), but the system failed to reach 20,000 Covid-19 cases in the first week of October

More coronavirus-positive patients have been transferred to Test and Trace than ever before (as shown in the graph), but the system failed to reach 20,000 Covid-19 cases in the first week of October

This shows the percentage of positive cases reached by local health teams by regions in England. There are declines in parts of the Northwest, which may reflect overwhelming the system by an increase in the number of cases

This shows the percentage of positive cases reached by local health teams by regions in England. There are declines in parts of the Northwest, which may reflect overwhelming the system by an increase in the number of cases

This shows the percentage of contacts reached by online contact tracers and call centers. The system failed to reach nearly 81,000 identified contacts in the first week of October

This shows the percentage of contacts reached by online contact tracers and call centers. The system failed to reach nearly 81,000 identified contacts in the first week of October

The figures show that private companies reached 372,458 contacts during the period covered by the data, from May 28 to October 7.

“Complex” cases – which include outbreaks linked to hospitals, nursing homes, prisons or schools – are handled by local health protection teams, whose statistics show success rates to be much higher. .

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Affairs said: “We continue to advance local contact tracing as part of our commitment to be locally led, with over 100 local research partnerships currently underway and more to come. “

He added that, including local teams, 84% of contacts were traced “where communication details were provided”.

This week Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer called on Mr Johnson to implement a nationwide two to three week breaker lockout so testing and traceability can be improved.

On Friday, the prime minister continued to resist the move, suggested by the government’s science advisory group for emergencies (Sage), but said he “couldn’t rule anything out”.

Sage also said in recently released documents that the system has only a “marginal impact” on the transmission of Covid-19.

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