Over a third of virus contacts missed in Northumbeland

More than a third of people who had close contact with coronavirus victims are still not being reached by the test and trace system in Northumberland, figures suggest.

By Patrick Jack
Friday, 11th December 2020, 2:28 pm
Test and system trace under fire
Test and system trace under fire

Data from the Department for Health and Social care shows 7,820 people who tested positive for Covid-19 in the area were transferred to the test and trace service between May 28 and December 2 – with 594 new cases in the last week.

This led to 16,986 close contacts being identified over the period – but just 66% of those were reached – meaning 5,779 people were not contacted or did not respond.

That was up from the 64.4% reached in the period to November 25 – the highest figure in the North East where the average was 61.8%.

Financial watchdogs have sharply criticised the Government's handling of the £22bn NHS Test and Trace operation and insisted it must do better.

The National Audit Office (NAO) says not enough test results are delivered within 24 hours, and too few contacts of infected people are being reached and told to self-isolate.

NAO chief Gareth Davies said: "The Government has rapidly increased testing and tracing activity, building significant new infrastructure and capacity from scratch.

"However, it has struggled to test and trace as many people as it has capacity to, or to reach the contacts of people testing positive quickly enough.

"Test and Trace is core to the UK's pandemic response.

"It must improve its performance with a focus on effective engagement with the public and integration with local efforts to improve tracing."