Sheffield's Covid contact tracing performance drops for second week

Sheffield's Covid contact tracing success rate has fallen for a second week, amid a record number of new positive cases.

Friday, 13th November 2020, 10:59 am
Contact tracers ask new patients to give details for anyone they were in close contact with in the 48 hours before their symptoms started

NHS Providers said the test and trace system has a long way to go to be effective, as it continues to struggle to reach much more than 60 per cent of the close contacts of people who test positive for the virus nationally.

Data from the Department for Health and Social care shows 17,342 people who tested positive for Covid-19 in Sheffield were transferred to the Test and Trace service between May 28 and November 4.

That means 2,631 new cases were transferred in the latest seven-day period – the largest increase since the regime began.

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Contact tracers ask new patients to give details for anyone they were in close contact with in the 48 hours before their symptoms started.

This led to 39,607 close contacts being identified over the period.

But just 56.9 per cent were reached – down from 57 per cent at the start of the scheme to October 21, and 57 per cent by October 28.

Across England, 59 per cent of contacts not managed by local health protection teams were reached and told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace in the latest week to November 4.

Local health protection teams deal with cases linked to settings such as hospitals, schools and prisons.

The contact tracing rate including these cases was 60.4 per cent – up slightly from the week before when a record low 59.9 per cent was reported.

That figure has since been amended to 60.2 per cent.

Around 142,000 new cases were transferred nationally in the week to November 4.

Saffron Cordery, deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, which represents trust leaders, said: "The number of people who tested positive for COVID this week has increased by eight per cent.

"Despite this, it is worrying to see fewer close contacts identified than the previous week, and with over 124,000 not reached this week it highlights how far the system has to go to be effective.

“We remain hopeful that the number of people testing positive for COVID will reduce as national lockdown continues, however are realistic that winter is going to be extremely challenging, particularly without a world class testing and contact tracing system."

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