England’s test-and-trace system has been hit with fresh problems after there were delays in contacting nearly 2,000 people infected with coronavirus, and one in seven home tests failed to produce a result.
An internet outage meant nearly 3,000 more people than usual were transferred to the contact-tracing system after testing positive for COVID-19 in the week ending 19 August. Two-thirds of these people had been tested days or weeks earlier, meaning there was a delay in reaching them and their close contacts when they should have been self-isolating.
The proportion of home tests kits failing to produce a result that week rose sharply, from 4% to 15% of the total, equating to more than 18,000 tests.
The Department of Health and Social Care figures also show that test and trace failed for a ninth week running to reach its target of contacting 80% of close contacts of people who test positive for COVID-19.
Matt Hancock, the health secretary, acknowledged on Thursday that the programme was “not quite there” in reaching that target. He told LBC radio: “One of the challenges is we want to get NHS test and trace up to over 80% of contacts, getting them to self-isolate – we’re at just over 75%, so we’re nearly there but not quite there.”
Source: The Guardian, 27 August 2020