Government launches NHS Test and Trace service

Government launches NHS Test and Trace service

NHS Test and Trace service to form a central part of the government’s coronavirus recovery strategy

Anyone with symptoms will be tested and their close contacts will be traced

New guidance means those who have been in close contact with someone who tests positive must isolate for 14 days, even if they have no symptoms, to avoid unknowingly spreading the virus

 

Workplace guidance
This guidance explains how employers and businesses can play their part in the NHS test and trace programme to slow the spread of the virus, protect the health and care system and save lives.

Click here to read the guidance.

 

The new NHS Test and Trace service has been launched today (Thursday 28 May) across England.

The service will help identify, contain and control coronavirus, reduce the spread of the virus and save lives.

Anyone who tests positive for coronavirus will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace and will need to share information about their recent interactions. This could include household members, people with whom they have been in direct contact, or within 2 metres for more than 15 minutes.

People identified as having been in close contact with someone who has a positive test must stay at home for 14 days, even if they do not have symptoms, to stop unknowingly spreading the virus.

If those in isolation develop symptoms, they can book a test at nhs.uk/coronavirus or by calling 119. If they test positive, they must continue to stay at home for 7 days or until their symptoms have passed. If they test negative, they must complete the 14-day isolation period.

Members of their household will not have to stay at home unless the person identified becomes symptomatic, at which point they must also self-isolate for 14 days to avoid unknowingly spreading the virus.

NHS Test and Trace brings together four tools to control the virus.

Test: increasing availability and speed of testing will underpin NHS Test and Trace.

Trace: when someone tests positive for coronavirus the NHS Test and Trace service will use dedicated contact tracing staff, online services and local public health experts to identify any close recent contacts they’ve had and alert those most at risk of having the virus who need to self-isolate. This will be complemented by the rollout of the NHS Covid-19 App in the coming weeks.

Contain: A national Joint Biosecurity Centre will work with local authorities and public health teams in PHE, including local Directors of Public Health, to identify localised outbreaks and support effective local responses, including plans to quickly deploy testing facilities to particular locations. Local authorities have been supported by £300m of new funding to help local authorities develop their own local outbreak control plans.

Enable: Government to learn more about the virus, including as the science develops, to explore how we could go further in easing infection control measures.

The NHS Test and Trace service, including 25,000 dedicated contact tracing staff working with Public Health England, will have the capacity to trace the contacts of 10,000 people who test positive for coronavirus per day and can be scaled up if needed.

The rollout of the NHS Test and Trace service has been made possible by the rapid expansion of testing. The largest network of diagnostic testing facilities in British history has been created and will soon have the capacity to carry out 200,000 tests a day. This includes 50 drive-through sites, more than 100 mobile testing units and 3 mega laboratories.

 

People who are contacted by the NHS Test and Trace service will be given clear information explaining what they must do and how they can access local support if needed. Guidance is also available online at gov.uk/coronavirus. This comes as the Department for Work and Pensions has announced that those having to self-isolate will be eligible for statutory sick pay if they are unable to work from home. This applies across the four nations of the UK.

The government has also expanded testing availability for children aged under 5, to help support the phased opening of schools and childcare settings in England from 1 June. From tomorrow, all symptomatic individuals in England will be able to access a test if they need one, with all symptomatic individuals in Wales able to book tests from Saturday.

Anyone with a new, continuous cough, a high temperature or a change in their sense of smell or taste is asked to immediately report these symptoms and book a test at nhs.uk/coronavirus.

A package of £300 million of new funding has been made available to local authorities to work with NHS Test and Trace to develop local outbreak control plans, building on the work already done so far to respond to coronavirus. Their plans will focus on identifying and containing potential outbreaks in places such as workplaces, housing complexes, care homes and schools, ensuring testing capacity is deployed effectively and helping the most vulnerable in self-isolation access essential services in their area. A new Local Government Advisory Board has also been established to support this work.

Work continues on the NHS COVID-19 app following a successful rollout on the Isle of Wight. There has been a positive reception to the test and trace system on the island with over 52,000 downloads in the first week.

The app, which will form a part of the NHS Test and Trace service, is due to be launched in the coming weeks once contact tracing is up and running. It will significantly extend the speed and reach of contact tracing, by helping to identify those who you may not know, such as someone sitting next to you on public transport. The app will also give powerful insights into the spread of the virus and how to contain it.

The new service applies to England only, but we continue to work with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to make sure we have systems that are coordinated across the UK.

Commenting on the announcement of the government’s Test and Trace Coronavirus programme, BCC Director General Dr Adam Marshall said:

“’A comprehensive Test and Trace programme is essential to boosting the confidence of businesses, staff and consumers as the economic re-start continues.

“Businesses will be keen to play their part in the success of the programme, and will support their staff to follow the guidance.

“A co-ordinated approach to Test and Trace across all four nations of the UK will be critical to ensuring the success of the programme and enhancing business confidence.”

“A co-ordinated approach to Test and Trace across all four nations of the UK will be critical."

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