Government says test turnaround times are improving

The Department of Health and Social Care has said that people taking PCR swab tests are receiving their results faster, thanks to improving turnaround times.

This means that people who receive a negative test result can get back to their normal lives sooner, while contacts of those who test positive can more quickly be contacted, breaking those chains of transmission that enable the virus to spread.

Increasing capacity, comprehensive remapping of sites, channels and labs with tests going to the nearest geographical lab, improved flow of samples to labs and enhanced automation to speed processing, have resulted in an increase in the number of in-person test results received the next day, up to 79.0 per cent from 69.1 per cent the previous week.

200 local tracing partnerships have been launched with local authorities, improving the speed in which test tracing can happen, while another reason for the improvement could be that under-18s in a household no longer have to be contact traced individually, as long as the parent or guardian in the household confirms they have completed their legal duty to inform their child to self-isolate.

A further 100 local tracing partnerships are in the process of being implemented.

Baroness Dido Harding said: “This week we have seen more tests processed and more positive cases contacted than ever before, which means we are curbing the rate of infection and informing those who otherwise would have unknowingly spread the virus. This is another clear indication that as the number of people using NHS Test and Trace continues to increase, so the service is constantly evolving and improving.

“We have also responded to feedback from the public, making improvements to the contact-tracing process that are already seeing a positive reaction. Defeating Covid-19 involves everyone working together across both national and local government. Local authorities play a hugely important role in delivering test and trace services and supporting their communities through outbreaks. The vast experience within local public health teams is vital in the government’s national efforts, and we now have 200 local tracing partnerships in operation, and even more still to be launched. Thank you to all of you who are continuing to work tirelessly to ensure the service continues to evolve and improve.”