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In-person coronavirus testing continues to deliver results the next day

Sixth week of NHS Test and Trace figures shows anyone getting a test at a regional test site or mobile testing unit can expect their result by the next day.

  • Despite an increase in tests this week, fewer people have tested positive and there have been fewer outbreaks or complex cases
  • New data shows that more than a million tests have now been carried out at care homes across the UK since the pandemic began

Statistics covering the 6th week of operation (2 to 8 July) of the NHS Test and Trace service were published yesterday, Thursday 16 July.

More than 155,000 people who may have been at risk of unknowingly spreading the virus have been reached by the service and asked to self-isolate.

The data continues to show that the majority of those testing positive were reached by NHS Test and Trace to identify their contacts in less than 24 hours.

96.4% of people tested in person at regional testing sites and mobile testing units received their tests the day after the test was taken. Work led by local authorities is also ongoing to increase the number of walk-through test sites available in communities for those that do not have access to cars to ensure even more people are able to access rapid in-person testing.

Statistics on the number of tests carried out on care home staff and residents since the pandemic began show that by 8 July, more than a million tests had been carried out, including as part of regular and routine testing in care homes.

Further changes have come into effect to make NHS Test and Trace more accessible to the public, with translation services available both when having a test and when speaking to contact tracers.

Signs in different languages at test sites inform people how to access translation support, while contact tracers at all levels of the service can dial in professional translators to support calls. Translation is now available in more than 200 languages, including Urdu, Punjabi, Bengali, Gujarati, Mandarin, Polish and British Sign Language.

Executive Chair of NHS Test and Trace, Dido Harding, yesterday said:

Each week there have been sustained improvements in NHS Test and Trace to reach more people and help stop those who may have been in contact with the virus unknowingly passing it on. We have made testing and tracing quicker and more accessible, and we remain committed to develop the service further over the coming months.

I want to thank the hundreds of thousands of people across England who are getting a test if they had symptoms, responding to the service if they tested positive, and listening to advice to self-isolate if they have been in contact with the virus. I continue to urge anyone contacted by NHS Test and Trace to follow the advice they receive to protect their families and communities.

Efforts to improve and build on NHS Test and Trace continues, from the time test results are delivered, to how contact tracers reach those who may unknowingly be at risk of passing the virus on.

A multidisciplinary team based in Newcastle, including NHS clinical contact tracers, are working closely with some of the country’s best behavioural scientists, to find new ways to engage the public and stop transmission.

Overall the data from the 6th week of operation (2 July to 8 July) of NHS Test and Trace shows that:

  • 78.7% (2,815) of the people who had tested positive for coronavirus and were transferred to NHS Test and Trace were reached by our contact tracers and asked to share details of their close contacts. This compares to 78% in the previous week
  • 71.1% (9,811) of close contacts were reached and advised to self-isolate. This compares to 71.6% in the previous week

In total, since 28 May 2020:

  • 34,750 people have newly tested positive for coronavirus in England during this period, with 34,990 transferred for contact tracing to include those that tested positive before contact tracing began
  • 76.4% (26,742) of the people who tested positive for coronavirus and were transferred to NHS Test and Trace were reached by our contact tracers and asked to share details of their close contacts
  • 84.1% (155,889) of close contacts were reached and advised to self-isolate

In the new network of diagnostic testing infrastructure between 2 and 8 July:

  • 96.7% of tests results from the 70 regional test sites were returned the day after the test was taken, with 87.1% in under 24 hours
  • 95.8% of test results from the 182 mobile testing units were returned the day after the test was taken, with 88.8% in under 24 hours
  • 60.1% of satellite test results were returned the day after the test was taken, with 20.9% in under 24 hours
  • home tests take time to be posted to a person and be couriered back to the lab. Because of this a low proportion of test results will be available within 24 hours of the test being taken. 71.1% of home test results were received within 48 hours of the test being taken

This week’s statistics continue to inform our understanding of how the virus is potentially being transmitted across England, and they continue to show that despite an increase in tests processed, fewer people have tested positive, and there have been fewer outbreaks or complex cases.

The number of people testing positive and identifying more than one close contact has also increased, in line with further relaxations in social distancing guidelines. This has meant that fewer cases are being escalated to health protection teams as part of the tiered tracing system.

NHS Test and Trace is working closely with local authorities across the country to help them respond to cases in their area, sharing postcode level data from the service to inform action to stop the spread of the virus in local communities.

The data published includes test turnaround times, as well as further information on positive test results, those who have shared contacts, and the contacts reached and asked to self-isolate.

Background information

The approach to the publication of NHS Test and Trace data is supported by the Office for National Statistics and UK Statistics Authority who are working closely with NHS Test and Trace on the development of this weekly release and the wider granular approach to data in the programme.

This is the 6th set of data on NHS Test and Trace to be published. Over the coming weeks, this data will be integrated with those from other parts of NHS Test and Trace to provide an end-to-end view of the service that follows the journey taken by people accessing NHS Test and Trace. This includes both the numbers of people engaged and the speed of the journey through the service, including data on test turnaround times.

Please note that previous figures released on NHS Test and Trace have been revised. The figures presented are based on a data cut a number of days after the end of the reporting period, to give time for cases reported at the end of the 7-day period to have an outcome. Some cases may continue to be in progress after this period, and therefore data may need to be revised over time.

We are working towards aligning the NHS and Public Health England reporting methodologies in order to add testing turnaround times for pillar 1 into the publication. Pillar 1 methodologies differ from pillar 2 methodology as the majority of tests are provided to hospital patients. Pillar 1 is calculated as the number of tests results available within and after 24 hours of the test being received by the laboratory. See turnaround times for NHS labs


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