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Corona update

NHS Test and Trace service launched

by Gemma Melling

The new NHS Test and Trace service launched last week (28 May 2020) across England.

The service will help identify, contain and control coronavirus, reduce the spread of the virus and save lives.

If a person develops symptoms (high temperature, a new continuous cough or loss of taste or smell), then they should self-isolate, along with their household contacts, and book a test at nhs.uk/coronavirus or call 119. If they test positive, they must continue to stay at home for 7 days or until their symptoms have passed. Their household contacts should isolate for 14 days.

If the test is negative, then neither they or their household need to self isolate anymore .

Anyone who tests positive for coronavirus will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace and will need to share information about their recent interactions. This could include household members, people with whom they have been in direct face to face contact, or within two metres for more than 15 minutes.

People identified as having been in close contact with someone who has a positive test must stay at home for 14 days, even if they do not have symptoms, to stop unknowingly spreading the virus. They should get a test, and their household self-isolate IF they develop symptoms.

Members of their household will not have to stay at home unless the person identified becomes symptomatic, at which point they must also self-isolate for 14 days to avoid unknowingly spreading the virus.

 Cllr Sean Donnelly, Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care, said: “NHS Test and Trace will be vital to stopping the spread of the virus. It is how we will be able to protect our friends and family from infection, and protect our NHS.”

NHS Test and Trace brings together four tools to control the virus:

  • Test: increasing availability and speed of testing will underpin NHS Test and Trace.
  • Trace: when someone tests positive for coronavirus the NHS Test and Trace service will use dedicated contact tracing staff, online services and local public health experts to identify any close recent contacts they’ve had and alert those most at risk of having the virus who need to self-isolate. This will be complemented by the rollout of the NHS Covid-19 App in the coming weeks.
  • Contain: A national Joint Biosecurity Centre will work with local authorities and public health teams in PHE, including local Directors of Public Health, to identify localised outbreaks and support effective local responses, including plans to quickly deploy testing facilities to particular locations.
  • Enable: Government to learn more about the virus, including as the science develops, to explore how we could go further in easing infection control measures.

The NHS Test and Trace service, including 25,000 dedicated contact tracing staff working with Public Health England, will have the capacity to trace the contacts of 10,000 people who test positive for coronavirus per day and can be scaled up if needed.

The Government has also expanded testing availability for children aged under 5, to help support the phased opening of schools and childcare settings in England from 1 June.

Anyone with a new, continuous cough, a high temperature or a change in their sense of smell or taste is asked to immediately report these symptoms and book a test at nhs.uk/coronavirus.

Work continues on the NHS COVID-19 app following a successful rollout on the Isle of Wight. There has been a positive reception to the test and trace system on the island with over 52,000 downloads in the first week.

The app, which will form a part of the NHS Test and Trace service, is due to be launched in the coming weeks once contact tracing is up and running. It will significantly extend the speed and reach of contact tracing, by helping to identify those who you may not know, such as someone sitting next to you on public transport. The app will also give powerful insights into the spread of the virus and how to contain it.