Thousands of people with coronavirus can not be contacted by new Test and Trace system

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Published on June 12, 2020 by

A third of people in England who received a positive coronavirus test result at the end of May could not be contacted by the new NHS Test and Trace system.

Baroness Dido Harding, the woman in charge of Test and Trace, says it is functioning but is not yet a gold standard service.

Anyone who tests positive for Covid 19 is now asked to give details of people they’ve spent more than 15 minutes with when they were less than 2 metres apart. Those people should then be contacted and told to self isolate for a fortnight.

The new system is seen as a vital tool to control local spikes in infection. The first NHS figures show that just over 8,000 people who tested positive in a week were referred to the contact tracing system.

Two-thirds of those who tested positive provided details of people they’d been in close contact with. But a third – more than 2,500 infected people – could not be reached or wouldn’t give details.

Tracers working for the new service identified almost 32,000 people who’d been in close contact with those who had the virus. They spoke to 85% of them and told them to self isolate. But again a large number of people – almost 5,000 – couldn’t be reached for various reasons.

Meanwhile businesses across Britain are calling for the two metre social distancing rule to be relaxed and reduced to just one metre to help the economy recover and to allow more schools to reopen.

And it’s being reported that coronavirus is also leading to a change in the government’s Brexit policy. The government is expected to change its approach to imports from the EU, allowing checks on goods to be much less rigorous than had been previously planned.

Sophie Raworth presents BBC News at Ten reporting by Health Editor Hugh Pym, Business Editor Simon Jack and Political Correspondent Chris Mason.

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