The NHS Test and Trace service, has recently gone live.
This represents a real step forward in our response to the outbreak. The service includes 25,000 dedicated contact tracing staff, who have the capacity to trace the contacts of those who test positive for coronavirus.The instructions are clear. If you get symptoms, isolate immediately and get a test. If you are contacted by NHS Test and Trace instructing you to isolate, you must. For those without symptoms who receive the call, we acknowledge that this will involve making a sacrifice. But it is for a purpose: to ensure the safety and liberty of everyone. As we move to the next stage of our fight against coronavirus, this system will help us to replace national lockdowns with individual isolation and, if necessary, local action where there are outbreaks. This will help us to restore basic freedoms whilst controlling the virus and keeping people safe.
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.
- Enable: Help the Government to learn more about the virus, as the science develops, to explore how we could go further in easing infection control measures.
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.
Testing and tracing will play a vital role in helping us to combat this virus.
For more information on how the system works, please see https://www.gov.uk/guidance/nhs-test-and-trace-how-it-works.