One in 10 east Londoners taking Covid tests being diagnosed with coronavirus

Ross Lydall
·3-min read
<p>Covid self-testing in London</p> (REUTERS)

Covid self-testing in London

(REUTERS)

More than one in 10 people seeking Covid tests in east London have the virus, according to the latest Test and Trace data.

Six boroughs have rates above 10 per cent of people testing positive in the most recent week – Barking and Dagenham, Havering, Redbridge, Newham, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest.

Redbridge had the highest rate of 13.2 per cent after 1,035 of 7,822 people tested in hospitals, care homes, walk-in and drive-through centres were found to have Covid.

There were 865 cases in Newham and in Havering, 860 cases in Tower Hamlets, 665 in Waltham Forest and 610 in Barking and Dagenham in the seven days to November 25.

The wider community prevalence of the virus in each borough is lower as these figures only relate to people seeking or being asked to take a test.

But political leaders have urged Londoners to continue to follow social distancing rules. Mayor Sadiq Khan told LBC yesterday: “If we are not careful we could see the virus surging again and us as a city going into Tier 3 or there being [another] national lockdown.”

<p>Sadiq Khan visits a Test and Trace centre in East Ham in September</p>GLA/Twitter

Sadiq Khan visits a Test and Trace centre in East Ham in September

GLA/Twitter

Newham mayor Rokhsana Fiaz said her borough had not seen a reduction in cases. “Rates among our elderly residents remain high too, and more people are becoming unwell,” she said.

Test and Trace, which was launched on May 28 and headed by Baroness Dido Harding, has now reached more than a million people who tested positive for Covid in its first 26 weeks.

The latest weekly data shows that, nationwide, the system is getting better at delivering test results within 24 hours – 54.2 per cent are returned within the target compared with 50.7 per cent the previous week.

But it got slightly worse at reaching people who had tested positive to ask them for details of their close contacts – despite having 35,000 fewer people to contact compared to the previous week due to a 28 per cent drop in people testing positive.

Of the 116,324 cases passed to Test and Trace in the most recent week, 98,784 people were reached – a success rate of 84.9 per cent. This was down from 85.7 per cent in the previous week.

Camden was the least affected borough in London, with just 2.2 per cent of tests proving positive – a total of 375 cases.

In terms of its performance in London since May, Test and Trace has been most successful in Havering, where it has reached 92 per cent of contacts, but worst in Hammersmith and Fulham, where 73 per cent of contacts have been reached.

Across the country, 246,604 people were identified as recent close contacts of infected people – and 83.8 per cent were reached and told to self-isolate.

<p>Baroness Harding: quicker test results but fewer contacts found </p>AFP via Getty Images

Baroness Harding: quicker test results but fewer contacts found

AFP via Getty Images

Test and Trace says it expects to see this number of close contacts it is able to trace continue to increase. This is because the process has been streamlined to allow adults in the same family to be traced via a single phone call.

Professor Kevin McConway, of The Open University, said there were “many indications that infections are falling quite fast”.

He added: “They have much further to fall, though – the current weekly number of people testing positive in the Test and Trace system, over 110,000 in England, is still at about the same level as in mid-October, which is about 10 times the number at the start of September.”

NHS Providers deputy chief executive Saffron Cordery said 68,000 people were not reached by the system – an issue that “must be addressed rapidly”.

She said: “Despite marginal improvements in Pillar 2 testing turnaround times, we are still far from a perfect system with some key routes remaining much too slow.”

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