Today, the NHS Test and Trace service has launched to stop the spread of Covid-19.
Currently, anyone with Covid-19 symptoms over the age of 5 can get tested. From June 1st, this will begin to include all ages as children prepare for a phased return to school. There are now over 50 drive-through testing sites, including Tripner Lorry Park in Portsmouth, more than 100 mobile testing units and 3 laboratories. Over 3.7 million people have been tested for Covid-19, with over 117 000 tests taking place on May 27th.
Once they have tested positive for Covid-19, they will be contacted via email, text or phone where they will be asked to share details of who they have been in close, recent contact with and places they have visited.
This information will then be used to alert those who have been in contact with the infected person. If so, they will need to log on to the NHS test and trace website or call a trained handler and begin self-isolation for 14 days from their last contact.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said:
“As we move to the next stage of our fight against coronavirus, we will be able to replace national lockdowns with individual isolation and, if necessary, local action where there are outbreaks.
“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.
“This new system will help us keep this virus under control while carefully and safely lifting the lockdown nationally.”
There are 25 000 dedicated contact tracing staff who are working in conjunction with Public Health England and local authorities to trace the contacts of 10 000 people a day who have tested positive for Covid-19. Local authorities have been given £300 million to help them develop outbreak control plans and work with NHS Test and Trace to contain coronavirus within councils.
Following the successful roll-out of the NHS COVID-19 app on the Isle of Wight, the app is due to be launched in the coming weeks. This not only speed up the process of testing and tracing but also provide invaluable data, quickly, to protect local populations and prevent a second wave.
Local MP, Caroline Dinenage, commented:
“This service is vital to helping contain the spread of Covid-19.
“As a community we have worked incredibly hard to bring the rate of infection and death toll down, so that restrictive measures can start to be lifted and we can start getting on the road to a new ‘normality.’
“But we are far from out of the woods, so it is incredibly important people continue to isolate when instructed to help fight this virus and prevent a devastating second wave.
“I look forward to seeing the positive impact that test and trace will have.”