Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that the government’s coronavirus test and trace system will be up and running in England from tomorrow
Anyone in England who has been found to have come in close contact with someone who has contracted COVID-19 will be requested to self-isolate for 14 days even if they have no symptoms.
Mr Johnson has said that being told to self-isolate was a “huge imposition” but continued by saying that people should be aware of why the programme was necessary.
This comes after it was announced that As part of the next phase of easing restrictions, local lockdowns will come into place in the future to tackle region outbreaks.
Baroness Dido Harding, who is leading the test and trace scheme, has said that she believed it would play a crucial role in ending current lockdown restrictions within the nation, saying that the British public would
“be exchanging national lockdown for individual isolation”.
Asked whether the majority of the public would abide by those measures, Baroness Harding said it “requires all of us to do our civic duty” in order to avoid a further spread of the coronavirus.
Those who test positive for COVID-19 will be asked for the details of any people that they have come in close contact with, as well as any places that they have visited over the past week, either by a contact tracer or via text or email.
Once they have handed over the details, those contacts will then be alerted by phone, text or email, before any further action is taken.
Depending what the levels of risk for those contacts, they will be instructed to isolate for up to 14 days; anyone showing symptoms of the coronavirus should also self-isolate for a week while they wait to receive their test results.
Yet the scheme will not include the contact tracing app currently being tested on the Isle of Wight, which means it will not be able to identify people unknown to someone who tests positive.
Baroness Harding did not say when the contact tracing app would be ready for use throughout the rest of the UK, describing it as “the cherry on the cake rather than the cake itself”, this is despite the application being hailed by the government as a key part of the test and trace scheme.
Professor John Newton, the leader of the government’s virus testing programme, argued that
“most of your contacts are known to you”.
Although the government guidance describes a contact as anyone who has been “within 2 metres for more than 15 minutes”, in practice officials suggested it would be limited to close contacts.
“It’s a very specific approach,” said Prof Newton, who said the scheme was designed to “prevent overreaction to the occurrence of a case and taking out whole businesses or care units.”