NHS Test and Trace has recorded another record-breaking week, with turnaround times for most testing routes returning to levels not seen since the middle of 2020, when testing demand was around a quarter of its current level.
In this reporting week, NHS Test and Trace returned 97.2% of in-person test results the next day after the test was taken, compared with 93.7% the week before.
Not only are people able to receive a test result more quickly and conveniently, but the service continues to reach a high proportion of cases and contacts.
NHS Test and Trace has successfully reached 86.4% of the people who received a positive test result, and 93.6% of their contacts, making a real impact in breaking chains of transmission. In total during the week of 21 January to 27 January, 507,692 people who had either tested positive or been identified as a recent close contact were reached and told to self-isolate – people who might otherwise have gone on to unknowingly spread the virus.
NHS Test and Trace’s test site network continues to expand. With more than 850 test sites in operation, including 474 local test sites, people are travelling a shorter distance than ever before to get a test. The median distance travelled for a test is just 2.1 miles, compared with 5.1 miles as recently as September.
NHS Test and Trace has also delivered one of its best turnaround times for home test kit results since the service launched last May, with a median turnaround time of 35 hours. More than 280,000 ordered a home test kit during this reporting week, with the service ensuring that those who are required to take a COVID-19 test are able to access one without visiting a test centre and meeting demand despite the current weather conditions.
More than 300 local authorities have joined forces with NHS Test and Trace to launch local tracing partnerships, combining specialist local expertise with the data and resources of NHS Test and Trace. These strong partnerships enable NHS Test and Trace to go further in supporting people who have tested positive for COVID-19 and tracing their recent contacts.
Health Minister Lord Bethell said:
Interim Executive Chair of the National Institute for Health Protection Baroness Dido Harding said:
As of 2 February, more than 71 million tests had been processed in the UK in total since testing began, more than any other comparable European country.
In the latest reporting week, 1,782,807 lateral flow device (LFD) tests have been carried out, with 5,716,248 conducted in total since first introduced in October.
Pillar 1 test results made available within 24 hours have increased to 95.1%, compared with last week’s total of 94.8%. This has remained broadly consistent since Test and Trace began. 96.5% of satellite tests were received within 3 days after the day they were taken, compared with 94.8% the previous week.
Over the past months, the government has put in place the largest network of diagnostic testing facilities created in British history. NHS Test and Trace now has the capacity to carry out more than 790,000 tests per day, compared with 2,000 just 9 months ago.
So far, more than 8.2 million cases and contacts have been reached and told to self-isolate by contact tracers.
Tracing performance has remained high with 86.4% of cases and 93.6% of contacts reached last week. The proportion of contacts reached within 24 hours once identified as a contact was 98.0%.
198,874 positive cases were transferred to contact tracers between 21 January and 27 January, with 171,847 reached and told to self-isolate.
Between 21 and 27 January, 358,959 people were identified as recent close contacts, with 96.6% of those with communication details provided reached and told to self-isolate. Since Test and Trace launched, 89.6% of close contacts for whom communication details were provided have been reached.
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