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Just 70% of “close contacts” of people with Covid-19 are being reached and asked to self isolate by NHS Test and Trace, new figures have revealed.

Overall, the test-and-trace system has slightly improved its reach among the number of people who test positive for the virus, but just under a quarter are still not being reached.

It is understood that the reason for the drop in “close contacts” being reached – defined as those who spend more than 15 minutes less than two metres away from a suspected case – is because the virus is now among the wider community rather than just NHS hospitals and care homes.

People living or working in NHS, social care or even prisons – described as “complex cases” – can more easily identify their range of contacts than individuals in the community who contract the virus. Without a fully functioning app, the task of identifying unknown contacts is more difficult.

The latest figures also appeared to show that Boris Johnson’s ambition of getting most covid tests turned around within 24 hours by the end of June is unlikely to be met.

The proportion of tests done within the one day time frame was 91%, although on the measure of being completed “by the end of the next day” the figure jumped to 97%.

As the figures are compiled for a whole week – between of June 25 and July 1 – it remains unclear what the figure was on June 30. Next week’s statistics will confirm whether the target has been met.

The proportion of tests being completed within 24 hours has improved week on week.

The current average Covid-19 testing turnaround time in the NHS pathology laboratories is 12 hours, up from 14 hours last week.  And 97% of NHS labs have an average test turnaround time of under 24 hours, up from 90% last week. Read more


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