The government has admitted thousands of people at risk of having COVID-19 didn’t say if they would self-isolate after being contacted by its coronavirus tracers.
In the first week of NHS Test and Trace, 26,985 people were called and asked to self-isolate.
However, the government said at Thursday’s Downing Street press conference that 4,807 contacts “didn’t confirm to us that they would self-isolate”.
Baroness Harding, the Tory peer in charge of Test and Trace, also said “a small minority don’t want to self-isolate”.
However, she didn’t say exactly how many people refused outright to comply.
Under the system, which is viewed as key to lifting the lockdown and has seen 25,000 people recruited, phone operatives are told to call people who have tested positive for COVID-19 and ask who they have had contact with.
These people are subsequently called and, if necessary, instructed to self-isolate to restrict the spread of the virus.
Between its launch on 28 May and 3 June, 8,117 people who tested positive for COVID-19 in England had their case transferred to Test and Trace. Of this total, 5,407 (67%) were reached and asked to provide details of recent contacts, while 2,710 (33%) were not reached.
A total of 31,794 contacts were subsequently identified, of which 26,985 (85%) were reached and asked to self-isolate. The remaining 4,809 (15%) were not reached.
Referring to the 4,807 people who were reached but didn’t confirm whether they would self-isolate, Baroness Harding said: “Together we know there are further improvements we can make to the system.
“We need to understand why this is and what we can do to support them to stay at home.
“I don’t under-estimate how tough this is for some of us, and we are working hard to support you.”
Baroness Harding also insisted Test and Trace “got off to a good start”.
“Given that it is still early days this is really encouraging, it means that the vast majority of people are responding positively and willingly, sharing information and self-isolating when needed.”
Health secretary Matt Hancock, asked if the system will be “enforced”, said “we are not ruling it out but we don’t think we need it at the moment”.
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