Faster turnaround times for Test and Trace

NHS Test and Trace has reported a record-breaking start to the new year, with a significant improvement in test turnaround times.

In the first two weeks of January, NHS Test and Trace carried out more than 13 per cent of the PCR tests conducted to date. Approximately 331,000 people received a positive result, with NHS Test and Trace identifying an estimated 47 per cent of new infections.

In addition to this, 85 per cent of in-person test results were returned the next day after the test was taken, compared with 63 per cent the week before. NHS Test and Trace’s vastly expanded test site network now has more than 800 test sites in operation, including 448 local test sites. The median distance travelled for a test is just 2.2 miles, compared to 5.1 miles as recently as September.

The government recently announced an additional £20 million to local authorities to cover the cost of the Test and Trace Support Payment Scheme, to ensure people continue to have access to the support they need to stay at home and reduce the transmission of coronavirus.

Health Minister Lord Bethell said: “NHS Test and Trace has delivered impressive results so far this year, not least in demonstrating its ever-increasing testing capacity. More than 13% of PCR tests conducted to date were carried out in the first 13 days of January 2021 – a phenomenal achievement for a national service that has existed for just nine months. Week by week, people are able to access tests faster and more conveniently than before, underlining the continuous improvement being made to the service.

“While our testing capacity continues to grow as part of the government’s winter plan, NHS Test and Trace is also deploying hundreds of thousands of rapid tests to identify asymptomatic cases. Almost one million LFD tests were conducted in this reporting week and we will continue to innovate and evolve our testing capability.

“Around one in three people with Covid-19 don’t display symptoms, meaning you can infect others unknowingly. It is therefore crucial that we continue to follow public health guidance, and all play our part by following the rules and reducing our social contact to slow the spread of the virus.”