NHS Test and Trace has made significant improvements to its contact tracing service, according to the most recent data, with it successfully tracing 92.7% of contacts and instructing them to self-isolate – up 7% from the previous week.
Between the week of December 3 to December 9, 2020 the NHS Test and Trace service reached a total of 264,960 people. Many of these may not have been aware there was a chance they could have passed on the virus.
The improvements have resulted from a number of significant changes to NHS Test and Trace working practice, including improving the contact tracing website, reducing repeat calls to households and increasing numbers of call handlers.
As well as resulting in a record proportion of contacts being reached, NHS Test and Trace have also increased the speed at which they reach contacts. Contacts reached within 24 hours of a positive test is now up to 97.3%, up from 95.2% on the previous week.
UK testing capacity has increased significantly too in the past six months, having risen from around 100,000 tests a day in April through to more than 550,000 a day currently. Turnaround times have similarly increased as demand has risen. Health Minister Lord Bethell said: “Over the past few months our teams have been working incredibly hard to make the contact tracing service as effective as possible, and these latest figures show that we are reaching yet more cases and contacts. We are also continuing to roll out mass community testing across the country to improve our response to COVID-19 still further.
“Community testing programmes, with rapid, regular testing will help drive down transmission rates to help prevent areas in Tier 2 moving into the toughest restrictions. It is crucial that we are able to identify those who are asymptomatic and find positive cases at a much faster rate to help break chains of transmission.”
Interim Executive Chair of the National Institute for Health Protection, Baroness Dido Harding, added: “The improvements we have made to NHS Test and Trace over the previous months are really starting to bear fruit. Our testing capability has increased to record high levels, which is a testament to the huge efforts of all involved.”