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Found 16 results
  1. News Article
    A leading health expert has suggested ministers have “lost control of the virus”, after the UK recorded it’s largest 24-hour spike in COVID-19 cases since 23 May. Government figures showed there have been a further 2,988 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK as of 9am on Sunday. This brings the total number of confirmed cases in the UK to 347,152. Sunday's figure is the highest since May 22 when 3,287 cases were recorded, and is also the first 24-hour period when cases passed 2,000 since the end of May. The tally was an increase on Saturday's figures of 1,813 new cases. Prof Gabriel Scally, a member of the Independent Sage group and a former NHS regional director of public health for the south-west, warned that government ministers had “lost control of the virus”. “It’s no longer small outbreaks they can stamp on,” he told The Guardian. “It’s become endemic in our poorest communities and this is the result. Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth called upon the government to respond to the sharp spike. He added that it was “a stark reminder that there is no room for complacency in tackling the spread of the virus”. “This increase, combined with the ongoing testing fiasco where ill people are told to drive for miles for tests, and the poor performance of the contact tracing system, needs an explanation from ministers,” he said on Sunday. Read full story Source: The Independent, 7 September 2020
  2. News Article
    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.” Read full story Source: The Guardian, 27 August 2020
  3. News Article
    The new version of the government’s contact tracing app will give users a ‘risk score’ based on how many people they interact with and where they live. The news comes as the Department of Health and Social Care launches a trial for the latest model of the contact tracing app, two months after the initial version was scrapped. According to the DHSC, the new app will tell users whether their risk of contracting coronavirus is unknown, low or high based on how many people they are in significant contact with. They will also be told what the coronavirus risk level is in their local authority area and will be alerted if it changes. Government guidance said the risk levels and alerts will be based on a local authority watchlist – which highlights areas that are of particular concern across the country, based on the number of coronavirus cases. People will also be able to check into venues – such as restaurants, pubs and leisure centres – using the app by scanning a QR code. If there is then an outbreak in a venue those who have checked in via the app will be alerted and told to isolate. The new NHS Test and Trace app trial was launched today for residents on the Isle of Wight and will expand to the London borough of Newham next week. Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 13 August 2020
  4. News Article
    Singapore plans to open source a smartphone app its digital government team has developed to track citizens' encounters with coronavirus carriers. The app, named TraceTogether, and its government is urging citizens to run so that if they encounter a Coronavirus carrier, it’s easier to trace who else may have been exposed to the virus. With that info in hand, health authorities are better-informed about who needs to go into quarantine and can focus their resources on those who most need assistance. The app is opt-in and doesn’t track users through space, instead recording who you have encountered. To do so, it requires Bluetooth and location services to be turned on when another phone running the app comes into range exchanges four nuggets of information - a timestamp, Bluetooth signal strength, the phone’s model, and a temporary identifier or device nickname. While location services are required, the app doesn't track users, instead helping to calculate distances between them. Read full story Source: The Register, 26 March 2020
  5. News Article
    Local authorities must be at the heart of contact tracing because COVID-19 is best understood as a pattern of local outbreaks rather than a national pandemic, says Sir Chris Ham and Robin Tuddenham in an HSJ article. Community testing and contact tracing represent our greatest hope for managing the risks to health of COVID-19 until a vaccine and effective treatments become available. Experts in infectious disease base their understanding of this on previous pandemics, and the experience of countries like South Korea and Germany. Work is underway at pace to resume contact tracking and tracing in England. It is understood that this programme will begin in earnest from 18 May following a pilot on the Isle of Wight. This work is a core part of Matt Hancock’s five-point plan for combating COVID-19, in support of some relaxation of lockdown anticipated soon. Whilst the pace is understandable, the methods and approach taken are top down, lack an effective role for key regional co-ordination through the Integrated Care Systems/Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships and Local Resilience Forums, and risk marginalising the essential skills of local authorities, GPs and the voluntary and community sector in place, according to Ham amd Tuddenham. Read full story Source: HSJ, 5 May 2020
  6. News Article
    The NHS contact-tracing app will not be ready before winter, a health minister has said, despite initially being promised in mid-May. Lord Bethell said the Department of Health was "seeking to get something going for the winter". But, he told a committee of MPs, the app wasn't "the priority at the moment". Lord Bethell confirmed the government still planned to introduce a contact-tracing app, describing it as "a really important option for the future". The app has been the subject of a trial on the Isle of Wight, where the Department of Health says it has been downloaded by 54,000 people. Lord Bethell said the trial had been a success, but admitted that one of its principal lessons had been that greater emphasis needed to be placed on manual contact tracing. Asked why the app had taken so long to release, Lord Bethell told the Science and Technology Committee the Isle of Wight trial had shown that people "weren't frightened of it, as we were worried that they might be" - and had also provided "concrete examples" of successes in breaking transmission chains. But he admitted there had been "technical challenges", as well as an "ongoing battle" to persuade people the system was safe and privacy-protecting. Read full story Source: Sky News, 18 June 2020
  7. News Article
    A contact tracing system has this week been launched in Wales, initially a telephone based process, followed by an online system next week. Anyone who has a positive coronavirus test result will be contacted by a team of contact tracers and asked for details of everyone they have had close contact with while they have had symptoms. From Monday 8th June, a new online system will be used to support the process. People will have the option to use the system to provide details of their close contacts electronically. The system has been trialled in four health board areas over the last two weeks and more than 600 contact tracers have so far been employed, with more to be employed. Health Minister, Vaughan Gething said “Today’s roll-out of the contact tracing element of our Test, Trace, Protect strategy is a significant step forward in the gradual move out of lockdown.” Read full story Source: HTN, 2 June 2020
  8. News Article
    In a major U-turn, the UK is ditching the way its current coronavirus-tracing app works and shifting to a model based on technology provided by Apple and Google. The Apple-Google design has been promoted as being more privacy-focused. However, it means epidemiologists will have access to less data. The government now intends to launch an app in the autumn, but it says the product may not involve contact tracing at that point. Instead the software may be limited to enabling users to report their symptoms and order a test. Baroness Dido Harding - who heads up the wider Test and Trace programme - will only give the green light to actually deploying the Apple-Google technology if she judges it to be fit for purpose, which she does not believe is the case at present. It is possible this may never happen. Read full story Source: BBC News, 18 June 2020
  9. News Article
    NHSX is working on a contact tracking app to trace the spread of coronavirus through the population. Contact tracking is already in limited use for people who have tested positive and the discipline has a long history in tuberculosis outbreaks. In a statement sent to HSJ, Matthew Gould, Chief Executive of NHSX, said : “NHSX are looking at whether app-based solutions might be helpful in tracking and managing coronavirus, and we have assembled expertise from inside and outside the organisation to do this as rapidly as possible.” Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 18 March 2020
  10. News Article
    The UK's scientists have been trying to trace COVID-19's path through the population ever since the coronavirus arrived on British shores. In what is thought to be the largest study of its kind in the world, an app developed by King's College London (KCL) and technology company Zoe, which tracks symptoms of the disease, has been downloaded more than three million times in the UK. Not to be confused with the government's contact-tracing app, the COVID-19 Symptom Study app allows users to report daily whether they feel healthy, and record any symptoms. The scientists have been using the data to estimate how the virus may have travelled through the population. Read full story Source: BBC News, 23 May 2020
  11. News Article
    Time is running out to finalise a track and trace strategy that would avoid a potential second surge in coronavirus cases, NHS leaders have said. The NHS Confederation warned of "severe" consequences to staff and patients if the right system was not established quickly and that lockdown measures should not be eased until a clear plan was in place. Contact tracing identifies those who may have come into contact with an infected person, either through an app or by phone and email, so they can avoid potentially passing the disease on. It follows the Prime Minister's pledge to introduce a "world-beating" contact tracing system in England from June. Niall Dickson, chief executive of the confederation, which represents health and care leaders, welcomed Boris Johnson's pledge made at Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday. But in a letter to Health Secretary Matt Hancock, Mr Dickson said without a clear strategy the UK was at greater risk of a second peak of the virus. He said a strategy should have been in place sooner and if the right system was not instigated rapidly the ramifications for the NHS "could be severe". Speaking on the Today programme, Mr Dickson said: "We are absolutely clear that contact tracing is the right thing to do, it is absolutely critical, it has got to be in place to prevent any notion of a second surge if the lockdown is being further released." Read full story Source: 21 May 2020
  12. News Article
    The UK’s failure to report how many people have recovered from COVID-19 has been criticised by public health experts, who say a huge proportion of cases have remained “invisible” to the health service. Britain is an outlier internationally in not reporting the number of people who have recovered from COVID-19 alongside statistics on deaths and numbers of identified cases. Chile is the only other nation not to share this information out of the 25 countries with the highest reported incidence. A failure to monitor those who test positive for COVID-19 outside of hospital has left people feeling unsupported and alienated from the health system, the experts say. There is concern that because the majority of community cases have not been logged in patient records, it will be more challenging to research the long-term consequences of the disease. Prof Devi Sridhar, the chair of global public health at the University of Edinburgh, said: “Not tracking people in the community, for me, [is] so astonishing. These people are completely invisible in the health system.” Read full story Source: The Guardian, 18 June 2020
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