August 10, 2020
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Contact Tracers To Knock On Doors As Government Tries To Improve NHS Test And Trace Programme
People who have been in close contact with a Covid-19 carrier could receive a knock on the door from contact tracers as the government looks to improve its “world beating” programme.
Last week, HuffPost UK reported how councils were setting up their own tracing procedures to plug holes in the national NHS Test and Trace system, which was only reaching 68% of contacts in some areas. 
Councils described how they were using local knowledge, including language skills, to contact hard to reach communities who were being missed by the one-size-fits-all national system. 
Read More: Why NHS Test And Trace Isn’t Working 
Now, the government has announced it will reinforce these local teams in order to reach more contacts, redeploying 6,000 of the 18,000 contact tracers from the national systems to local test and trace schemes. 
Following local programmes that have already been set up in areas such as Blackburn, Calderdale and Sandwell, the local tracing teams will use data from the NHS Test and Trace scheme to chase up people that national tracers have not been able to reach. 
In some areas, local tracers have visited people at home if they have been unable to get hold of them by other methods. 
Dido Harding, who is the head of the NHS Test and Trace programme, said: “NHS Test and Trace is one of the largest contact tracing and testing systems anywhere in the world, and was built rapidly, drawing on the UK’s existing health protection networks, to stop the spread of coronavirus.
“We have always been clear that NHS Test and Trace must be local by default and that we do not operate alone – we work with and through partners across the country.
“As we learn more about the spread of the disease, we are able to move to our planned next step and become even more effective in tackling the virus.” 
The move comes after official figures released last week revealed that despite Boris Johnson describing the test and trace scheme as “world beating”, the service only managed to reach 72% of people who tested positive for Covid-19 between July 23 and July 29. 
In turn, contact tracers were only able to reach 72% of Coronavirus patients close contacts.
It means that thousands of people who could have been infected with Covid-19 and should have self-isolated in order to prevent possibly spreading the virus, failed to do so. 
Researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine have warned that the test and trace system will need to improve significantly in order to avoid a second surge in cases in the winter after schools reopen.  Related... Why NHS Test And Trace Isn't Working NHS Test And Trace Is Getting Worse At Reaching Covid Patients' Close Contacts
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Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus.

Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.

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