by Oleg Burunov
Earlier this month, Public Health England, an executive agency of the UK’s Department of Health and Social Care, admitted that thousands of COVID-19 cases were recently missed due to an apparent software glitch in the government’s test and trace system.
British Prime Boris Johnson has expressed dissatisfaction over the performance of the country’s test and trace system, which he said should be improved to help tackle the coronavirus pandemic.
“I share people’s frustrations and I understand totally why we do need to see faster turnaround times and we need to improve it. We need to make sure that people who do get a positive test self-isolate – that’s absolutely crucial if this thing is going to work in the way that it can”, he told reporters on Thursday.
The UK government’s chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance, for his part, noted that the test and trace system “becomes much more difficult to have an impact once numbers are high” and that it is “much more effective when numbers are low”.
He underscored that it was “really important” to ensure contacts are traced and positive cases isolated quickly, adding that “it’s very clear there’s room for improvement on all that”.
The remarks came after government data showed that only 59.6% of contacts of people who tested positive in England were reached by the tracking system last week, the lowest proportion since the test and trace system was launched in the country in May.
Additionally, the data indicated that just 15.1% of those tested in England received their results within 24 hours, which is also the lowest percentage on record.
England’s Three-Tier Lockdown
The developments followed Public Health England (PHE), an executive agency of the UK’s Department of Health and Social Care, admitting in early October that more than 15,000 COVID-19 cases had been missed due to an apparent software glitch in the test and trace system between 25 September and 2 October.
The system-related troubles unfold against the backdrop of a drastic increase in coronavirus infections in England, which prompted Johnson last week to announce the government’s three-tier COVID-19 lockdown system in an attempt to contain the ongoing spike in confirmed cases.
The new measures will vary from one area to another, according to the COVID-19 infection rates in that particular part of England. Northern cities such as Manchester, Newcastle, and Liverpool are expected to see the most serious restrictions, as the cities are witnessing an “increasingly concerning” rise in infections.
In September, Johnson admitted that the UK was “now seeing a second wave [of the COVID-19] coming in”, insisting that a second national lockdown was the “last thing anybody wants”.
As of Thursday, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Britain had climbed to 789,233 with 44,158 fatalities, according to the World Health Organisation’s latest situation report.