A pregnant woman who caught Covid-19 was only contacted by the Test and Trace service eight days after she learned of her positive result.
Sally Fazeli, from Preston, Lancashire, received the call – asking for details of people she had been in contact with and offering advice on self-isolating – just as her own period of self-isolation was ending.
Her husband, Ayman Fazeli, told the PA news agency: “They said on the call, ironically, they knew she was in the vulnerable category by way of being pregnant and that they wanted to get in touch with her as soon as they could.”
Mrs Fazeli, 33, first experienced symptoms – a cough and a fever – on September 19, had a test the following day and received notification of the positive result on September 21.
In that message she was told to isolate for 10 days from the point when the symptoms first appeared.
But she did not receive a call from Test and Trace until September 28 – nine days into the 10-day self-isolation period.
Mrs Fazeli, who is 20 weeks pregnant, told PA: “They said ‘Have you managed to get the help and support you needed?’
“I was like ‘Luckily my mum isn’t too far away so she was able to get us some things’ because we ran out of the essentials, and both of us couldn’t go food shopping or leave the house.
“He said because I was in the vulnerable category I would have been able to access more support in that area, which I didn’t know … I was like ‘I guess it doesn’t even matter now anyway’.”
As one of his wife’s contacts, Mr Fazeli – who, along with the couple’s two children, tested negative – then received a call himself on October 1.
He said: “It was all a bit ‘after the horse had bolted’ kind of thing – so not exactly impressive.”
He added: “I watched that Panorama thing last week when it had contact tracers saying they’re champing at the bit to help, and they’re sat there twiddling their thumbs, waiting to be assigned cases to call – it doesn’t seem to stack up.”
The Test and Trace programme has faced numerous problems in recent weeks, with many people unable to get tests or forced to travel long distances to receive them.
It was then revealed that an error at Public Health England meant 16,000 coronavirus patients had not been traced.
Shane Walker, from Wigan, received a similarly delayed Test and Trace call after he was tested on September 19.
“The speaker said they were from Test and Trace and asked if I had any questions,” he told PA. “At that point, I told them that I had only one day left of isolating.”
From tomorrow, people in England will be required by law to self-isolate if they have #Covid19 symptoms, a positive test result or are told to by NHS Test and Trace
That means no walks in the park and no meeting up with friends.
— Department of Health and Social Care (@DHSCgovuk) September 27, 2020
The 25-year-old, who works in pastoral care at a school, quickly encouraged relevant staff to isolate once he informed them of his positive test.
“Nobody should have been exposed as I took it upon myself to notify the relevant people and conduct my own test and trace in a way,” he told PA.
“Had I not been aware of the rules from working in a school, people may have been exposed due go the lateness of their call.”
Mr and Mrs Fazeli also took it upon themselves to notify people they had been in contact with, including a restaurant where they had celebrated their son’s birthday shortly before Mrs Fazeli started to exhibit symptoms.
“We did our own due diligence, but not everyone will do that,” Mr Fazeli said.
He added: “It wasn’t a great experience of the service, put it that way.”
Both Mrs Fazeli and Mr Walker have now fully recovered.