NHS Test and Trace reaches first contact tracing target since May

Samples are taken at a coronavirus testing facility in Temple Green Park and Ride, Leeds, as NHS Tes

The NHS Test and Trace service has reached the 80% target only twice since it was created in late May - Credit: PA

The government's Test and Trace service has finally hit its contact tracing target for the first time since May.

Tracers were finally able to exceed the 80% target of close contact reached which experts say is needed to make the system effective.

The percentage of "close contacts" of people with Covid-19 in England reached 85.7pc for the week ending December 2, new figures reveal.

This is the second time the service has met that target since it was set up in late May, when it reached a high of 90.6pc before steadily falling to 59.6pc in late October.

The boost is being attributed to a key decision to phone households only once when they have been in contact with a positive coronavirus case instead of calling individual household members after users complained they were getting inundated with calls.

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The change will see adults or guardians become legally responsible for informing under-18's in their household to self-isolate.

"These operational improvements have resulted in an increase in the proportion of contacts reached and the proportion reached within 24 hours," the department for health and social care said.

The system had come under fire after it missed the 80pc target several months in a row and paid private contractors more than £7,000 a day to work on the system

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The latest figures - which cover the final week of the second national lockdown - reflect a general fall in cases.

A total of 96,415 people tested positive for Covid-19 in England at least once in the week to December 2.

This is down 13% on the previous week and is the lowest total since the week ending October 7.

Some 195,355 people were identified as coming into “close contact” with someone who had tested positive – defined as spending more than 15 minutes with them at a distance of less than two metres.

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