The government has unveiled a COVID-19 test and trace strategy for England, but it wasted valuable time in recognising what needed to be done after the lockdown was imposed and has been playing catch up ever since writes Chris Ham in a BMJ Opinion article.
Chris says responding effectively to COVID-19 requires a blend of national and local leadership. Tragically, the government has been slow to recognise this, no more so than in plans to resume community testing and contact tracing as the lockdown is relaxed. These plans are essential to identify further outbreaks when they occur and to contain their impact.
The challenge now is to ensure that every area of England has effective arrangements in place ahead of further relaxations of the lockdown in June. These arrangements must involve people being able to access tests in convenient locations, including their own homes, and for tests to be analysed rapidly. Agreement is needed on sharing test results with GPs and contact tracing staff to enable effective follow up.