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Coronavirus (COVID-19) - Government launches new Test and Trace service

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The new NHS Test and Trace service launched today (Thursday 28 May) across England, the government has announced. 

The service will help identify, contain and control coronavirus, reduce the spread of the virus and save lives. 

Anyone who tests positive for coronavirus will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace and will need to share information about their recent interactions. This could include household members, people with whom they have been in direct contact, or within 2 metres for more than 15 minutes. 

READ MORE: See all of our advice in relation to Coronavirus

People identified as having been in close contact with someone who has a positive test must stay at home for 14 days, even if they do not have symptoms, to stop unknowingly spreading the virus. 

If those in isolation develop symptoms, they can book a test at nhs.uk/coronavirus or by calling 119. If they test positive, they must continue to stay at home for 7 days or until their symptoms have passed. If they test negative, they must complete the 14-day isolation period. 

Members of their household will not have to stay at home unless the person identified becomes symptomatic, at which point they must also self-isolate for 14 days to avoid unknowingly spreading the virus. 

The Government has said NHS Test and Trace brings together four tools to control the virus.

  • Test: increasing availability and speed of testing will underpin NHS Test and Trace.
  • Trace: when someone tests positive for coronavirus the NHS Test and Trace service will use dedicated contact tracing staff, online services and local public health experts to identify any close recent contacts they’ve had and alert those most at risk of having the virus who need to self-isolate. This will be complemented by the rollout of the NHS Covid-19 App in the coming weeks.
  • Contain: A national Joint Biosecurity Centre will work with local authorities and public health teams in PHE, including local Directors of Public Health, to identify localised outbreaks and support effective local responses, including plans to quickly deploy testing facilities to particular locations. Local authorities have been supported by £300m of new funding to help local authorities develop their own local outbreak control plans. 
  • Enable: Government to learn more about the virus, including as the science develops, to explore how we could go further in easing infection control measures.

The NHS Test and Trace service, including 25,000 dedicated contact tracing staff working with Public Health England, will have the capacity to trace the contacts of 10,000 people who test positive for coronavirus per day and can be scaled up if needed.

READ MORE: Learn how to access our Wellbeing Hub and emergency supplies

People who are contacted by the NHS Test and Trace service will be given clear information explaining what they must do and how they can access local support if needed. Guidance is also available online at gov.uk/coronavirus. This comes as the Department for Work and Pensions has announced that those having to self-isolate will be eligible for statutory sick pay if they are unable to work from home. This applies across the four nations of the UK. 

The government has also expanded testing availability for children aged under 5, to help support the phased opening of schools and childcare settings in England.

All symptomatic individuals in England will be able to access a test if they need one, with all symptomatic individuals in Wales able to book tests from Saturday (May 30).

Anyone with a new, continuous cough, a high temperature or a change in their sense of smell or taste is asked to immediately report these symptoms and book a test at nhs.uk/coronavirus.

 

How NHS Test and Trace Works:

Part 1 FOR SOMEONE WITH CORONAVIRUS SYMPTOMS:

STEP 1 ISOLATE: As soon as you experience coronavirus symptoms, you should self-isolate for at least 7 days. Anyone else in your household should self-isolate for 14 days from when you started having symptoms.

STEP 2 TEST: You should order a coronavirus test immediately at nhs.uk/coronavirus or call 119 if you have no internet access.

STEP 3 RESULTS: If your test is positive you must complete the remainder of your 7-day self-isolation. Anyone in your household should also complete self-isolation for 14 days from when you started having symptoms. If your test is negative, you and other household members no longer need to isolate.

STEP 4 SHARE CONTACTS:  If you test positive for coronavirus, the NHS Test and Trace service will send you a text or email alert or call you within 24 hours with instructions of how to share details of people you have been in close, recent contact with and places you have visited. It is important that you respond as soon as possible so that we can give appropriate advice to those who need it. You will be asked to do this online via a secure website or you will be called by one of our NHS contact tracers.

READ MORE: Grants are still available for local businesses during Coronavirus crisis

Part 2 FOR THOSE CONTACTED IF YOU HAVE BEEN IN CLOSE CONTACT WITH SOMEONE WHO HAS TESTED POSITIVE FOR CORONAVIRUS 

STEP 1 ALERT:

You will be alerted by the NHS Test and Trace service if you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus. The alert will come either by text or email and you’ll need to log on to the NHS Test and Trace website, which is the easiest way for you and the service to communicate with each other – but, if not, a trained call handler will talk you through what you need to do. Under 18’s will get a phone call and a parent or guardian will be asked to give permission for the call to continue.

STEP 2 ISOLATE: You will be asked to begin self-isolation for up to 14 days, depending on when you last came into contact with the person who has tested positive. It’s really important to do this even if you don’t feel unwell, because it can take up to 14 days for the symptoms to develop. This will be crucial to avoid you unknowingly spreading the virus to others. Your household doesn’t need to self-isolate with you, but they must take extra care to follow the guidance on social distancing and washing your hands.

STEP 3 TEST IF NEEDED: If you develop symptoms of coronavirus, other members of your household should self-isolate at home and you should book a coronavirus test at nhs.uk/coronavirus or call 119 if you have no internet access. If your test is positive you must continue to stay at home for 7 days. If your test is negative, you must still complete your 14 day self-isolation period because the virus may not be detectable yet.

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