The latest weekly statistics for NHS Test and Trace reveal the service has reached more than 181,666 people, and tested more than 2.8 million people for COVID-19, between 18 and 24 February. The service successfully reached 88.5% of cases who tested positive and 93.3% of their contacts, making a real impact in breaking chains of transmission.
Between 18 and 24 February, 89.4% (103,404) of the contacts identified were reached within 3 days of the confirmed case testing positive.
Since its launch in May 2020, NHS Test and Trace has now reached more than 9 million people, including 90.3% of close contacts for whom communication details were provided.
Of those who took their tests in-person at either a local or regional test centre or mobile testing unit in the latest reporting week, nearly all (95.1%) received their results the following day, while the median turnaround time for home test kits was 37 hours.
The service continues to reach a high proportion of cases and contacts, with people able to receive a test result more quickly and conveniently. The median distance that people will have travelled for a test remains consistently at just 1.9 miles.
With about a third of individuals with coronavirus showing no symptoms and potentially spreading it without knowing, targeted, regular testing will mean more positive cases are found.
As set out in the government’s roadmap to cautiously ease out of lockdown restrictions, testing is supporting preparations for the return to school on 8 March, with asymptomatic testing already taking place in many education settings.
Between 18 and 24 February, 587,943 lateral flow tests were conducted within primary schools, school-based nurseries and maintained nursery schools, while 288,958 lateral flow tests were conducted within secondary schools and colleges. 54,048 lateral flow tests were carried out in higher education.
This means that more than 990,000 rapid lateral flow tests were carried out last week in educational settings – bringing the total lateral flow tests to over 5 million.
Health Minister Lord Bethell said:
We know that around 1 in 3 people who are infected with COVID-19 have no symptoms, so could be spreading the disease without knowing it. Each positive result from a rapid lateral flow test is one that would not have been found otherwise, helping break chains of transmission in our communities and workplaces and protecting those at highest risk.
Testing for people without symptoms is playing a critical role in helping to enable the return of students to our schools and colleges – a national priority.
Interim Executive Chair of the National Institute for Health Protection Baroness Dido Harding said:
This has been another strong reporting week for NHS Test and Trace as the service continues to reach almost 90% of cases.
This truly is a national effort and our partnership of public and private sectors is instrumental in our response to this virus.
As the virus becomes less prevalent, the test, trace and isolate system will become ever more important in identifying local outbreaks rapidly, enabling local and national teams to take swift action to manage them and respond to new variants of concern.
I am incredibly thankful to all those involved in NHS Test and Trace, along with the expertise of local authorities, support of businesses and the education sector to work as one team to beat this virus and help us on the road back to normality.
As of 24 February, more than 83 million tests have been processed in the UK in total since testing began, more than any other comparable European country. In total, almost 22.8 million people have now been tested at least once since NHS Test and Trace was launched. That equates to more than a third of all people in England.
In the latest week (18 February to 24 February), 2,226,982 lateral flow device (LFD) tests were conducted, with 14,474,564 conducted in total since first introduced. Of the LFD tests conducted in the latest week, 5,336 LFD tests returned a positive result and 92,307 positive results have been reported since they were introduced.
The number of LFD tests has been increasing across all regions between late December 2020 and mid-February 2021, with most in this reporting week conducted in the South East followed by the North West. This week the stats also include a breakdown of positive, negative and void results at local authority level for the first time.
Pillar 1 test results made available within 24 hours has remained stable at 96.3%, compared with last week’s percentage of 96.7%. 97.2% of satellite tests were received within 3 days after the day they were taken, compared with 96.9% the previous week.
Since May, on average 20 test sites have been opened each week, with these local test sites complementing part of more than 1,000 symptomatic test sites in operation, ensuring people are travelling a shorter distance than ever before to get a test.
So far, more than 9.2 million cases and contacts have been reached and told to self-isolate by contact tracers.
Tracing performance has remained high with 88.5% of cases and 93.3% of contacts reached last week. The proportion of contacts reached within 24 hours once identified as a contact was 97.9%, consistent with the previous week when it was 98.0%.
69,129 positive cases were transferred to contact tracers between 18 and 24 February, with 61,145 reached and told to self-isolate.
In total during the week of 18 to 24 February, 181,666 people who had either tested positive or been identified as a recent close contact were reached and told to self-isolate – people who might otherwise have gone on to unknowingly spread the virus.
To date, 312 local authorities have joined forces with NHS Test and Trace to launch local tracing partnerships, combining specialist local expertise with the national data and resources of NHS Test and Trace. These partnerships enable NHS Test and Trace to go further in supporting people who have tested positive for COVID-19 and tracing their recent contacts.
Support for those self-isolating is also expanding. As announced in the COVID-19 Response roadmap published on Monday 22 February, the Test and Trace Support Payment Scheme will continue into the summer, and will be expanded to cover parents who are unable to work because they are caring for a child who is self-isolating. The funding made available for local authorities as part of this to make discretionary support payments will be increased to £20 million per month.
There will be more funding too to help local authorities ensure people self-isolating have access to practical support, such as food deliveries or help with their caring responsibilities, and support for wellbeing.
The weekly statistics from the 39th week of NHS Test and Trace (England) show in the most recent reporting week (18 to 24 February):
- the proportion of contacts reached by tracing service has remained consistent at 93.3%
- 88.5% of people who tested positive and were transferred to the contact-tracing system were reached and asked to provide information about their contacts, compared with 88.7% the previous week
- 96.3% of contacts where communication details were given were reached and told to self-isolate
- 95.1% of in-person test results were received the next day after the test was taken, compared with 95.9% of tests the previous week
- 96.3% of pillar 1 test results were made available within 24 hours, compared with 96.7% the previous week
- 82.9% of in-person test results were received within 24 hours after the test was taken, compared with 86.8% the previous week
- 97.2% of satellite test results were received within 3 days after the day they were taken, compared with 96.9%% the previous week
- there have been 2.6 million LFD tests in primary schools, school-based nurseries and maintained nursery schools, 2.2 million LFD tests in secondary schools and colleges, and more than 730,000 LFD tests taken in higher education.
The NHS Test and Trace COVID-19 app has been downloaded over 21.9 million times and, since September, has notified over 1.8 million users across England and Wales to isolate. Developments continue in response to user feedback, including the introduction of a ‘book a test’ venue alert. The app also helps the public to understand how best to protect themselves, makes it easy for users to check in to venues and sends alerts that users may have been exposed to COVID-19 at a venue they have visited
We launched a short user survey on the Test and Trace publication page on 4 February to