More than one in four people with coronavirus in England are not being contacted by the NHS track and trace system, new figures have shown.
Data shows that 14,045 people who tested positive for Covid-19 in England had their case transferred to the NHS Test and Trace contact tracing system during the first two weeks of the programme’s launch.
Figures show that:
Of the 14,045 coronavirus-positive cases, 10,192 people (73%) were reached and asked to provide details of recent contacts.
Some 3,435 (25%) people were not reached and a further 418 (3%) did not provide contact details.
Nearly eight out of 10 people who were reached in the second week of the programme were reached within 24 hours of positive test result, up slightly on the week before.
During the first two weeks of test and trace, 87,639 people were seen to be in close contacts of people who had tested positive for Covid-19 were reached through the tracing system.
That is 91% of the 96,746 contacts identified.
The remaining 9,107 (9%) were identified as close contacts but were not reached.
Baroness Dido Harding, who heads the programme, admitted last week that it was not yet “gold standard” but insisted it was “fit for purpose”.
On Thursday, she said: “NHS Test and Trace is working to stop the spread of coronavirus and undoubtedly helping to save lives.
“Building on our previous work, this week’s data shows that tens of thousands more people who may have otherwise unwittingly spread the virus are now remaining safely at home.
“Our efforts continue to reach more people who may be at risk of passing the virus on, and I am grateful for the support the public has already shown to protect those around them.
“We continue to rely on everyone to play their part and we urge those with symptoms to book a test immediately, and those contacted by the NHS Test and Trace service to follow the advice they receive.”
It comes a day after MPs were told the government’s contact tracing smartphone app – previously heralded as a fundamental pillar of the country’s response to the pandemic – may not be ready until the winter.
Meanwhile, a group of independent experts formed to monitor the government’s coronavirus response has called on ministers to reveal the scientific basis behind the Covid-19 Test and Trace system.
A new report from the Independent Sage body said that lives are at risk from a system that “will not work”.
The group also insisted that it was “impossible” to realise the goal of reaching 80% of contacts under the Government’s plan, which contains “critical failures”.
Coronavirus: Everything you need to know