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28.05.2020

COVID contact tracing launched

People who’ve been in close contact with someone found to have Covid-19 in are now being traced by thousands of health workers.

The contact tracers will ask people they get in touch with to self-isolate for a fortnight.

From today people who test 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 two 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 are asymptomatic. 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.

The prime minister has set a target of 24 hours for turning around covid-19 test results. Boris Johnson told the Commons liaison committee he has introduced a target for all covid-19 test results to be turned around in 24 hours, as he was challenged on the speed of the returns being crucial to the “game-changing” test and trace system.

Local “outbreak control committees” will also be established to control future outbreaks. The prime minister said that each area would have an “outbreak control plan” and an “outbreak control committee” responsible for implementing it, the meeting heard. Mr Johnson confirmed local outbreak committees would lead on setting up outbreak control plans but there will be “strong directional effort and control” from the government’s joint biosecurity centre.

The contact-tracing app is still being trialled in the Isle of Wight, where their Council’s chief executive John Metcalfe said one of the app’s “challenges” is to ensure health and care staff disable the app before going into working environments where the technology will register a high-risk contact with covid-19 patients. Such contacts between staff and covid-19 patients should not be deemed a noteworthy contact if the staff are wearing PPE in line with national guidance. But, if a staff member does not disable the app, they face being alerted to the contact without knowing it occurred in hospital under the protection of PPE because the app does not tell you where the contact occurred due to privacy rules.

For more information please visit the NHS Test and Trace website by clicking here

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