Artist illustration of a Covid test

UK reaches record testing capacity, over 10 million people tested

New figures published by NHS Test and Trace reveal the UK has reached a landmark record testing capacity, with more than 10 million people across the country having been tested for Covid-19 at least once.

A total of more than 32.5 million tests have been processed in the UK since the service began, with 624 test sites now in operations around the country and more opening every week.

In the last week of October, nearly two million tests were processed.

It comes in the same period that the country’s test and trace system announced it had exceeded 500,000 testing capacity.

A significant improvement in test turnaround for in-person tests was also reported in the latest figures: with 61.8% of all in-person test results being received the next day after the text was taken – meaning three in every five people had the results received within approximately 24 hours of taking a test.

Local tracing partnerships have been launched with 148 local authorities around the UK to support NHS Test and Trace in reaching people quickly and advising self-isolation where necessary.

During the same reported week, more than 115,000 people who tested positive were reached and asked for contact details, representing 82.7% of the total number of people transferred into the contract tracing process.

To further bolster the system nationally, a further 150 local tracing partnerships are in advanced stages of negotiation and implementation.

With the country grappling with a second wave of Covid-19 infections, limiting spread in the community – particularly from asymptomatic carriers – is a key step in reducing the virus’ prevalence.

Interim Executive Chair of the National Institute for Health Protection Baroness Dido Harding said: “Latest figures show NHS Test and Trace is processing more tests and reaching more people, which means we are finding positive cases and helping to break chains of transmission.

“We know that there are areas where we still need to improve and we are working tirelessly to make the service quicker and more effective every day. We have expanded capacity to over 500,000 tests a day to help meet demand over the winter period and continue to improve test turnaround times. Increased capacity and testing innovations have also allowed us to start regular testing of staff across the NHS and care homes, which will start tomorrow.

“NHS Test and Trace is a crucial weapon against this virus, but it is not a silver bullet. I urge everyone to follow new restrictions and book a test if you have symptoms to help protect each other during this time.”

Health Minister Lord Bethell added: “We have now reached the milestone of 500,000 testing capacity. This, alongside an ever-growing network of test sites, more than 600 so far, means that those who need a test can get a test more easily than ever. Everybody involved in NHS Test and Trace should feel extremely proud of their achievements.

“However, we do know that more needs to be done. We are constantly looking for new ways to improve the service, scoping out new technologies, partnerships and ways of working to equip us to better support our people, locally and nationally.”

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