The number of people testing positive for coronavirus in England is almost three times as many as at the end of August, official data shows.

The new numbers from the NHS Test and Trace system show 19,278 new people tested positive between 10-16 September.

Since the end of August there has been a substantial increase of 180% in positive cases, according to stats from NHS Test and Trace.

Cases are now double the number recorded when the system was launched at the end of May.

But the scheme is also showing signs of struggling, with longer turnaround times for in-person swab testing.

Only 28.2% of in person test results were received within 24 hours compared to 33.3% in the previous week, even though the number of tests carried out was similar.

It means fewer than one in three people who get tested at a regional site, local site or mobile testing unit get their results in this time frame.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson had pledged that by the end of June, the results of all in-person tests would be back within 24 hours.He told the House of Commons on 3 June he would get “all tests turned around within 24 hours by the end of June, except for difficulties with postal tests or insuperable problems like that”.

The number of people transferred to the contact tracing system – 21,268 – increased by 37% compared to the previous week, a continuation of the sharp upward trend seen from the beginning of August.

The proportion of these people reached through tracing decreased slightly, 77.7% compared with 83.8% in the previous week.

The figures show 77,556 people were identified as coming into close contact with someone who had tested positive, an increase of 16%. Out of these 74.7% were contacted and asked to self-isolate.

This is down from 75.9% the previous week and below the 77.2% reached in the week to 19 August.

The number of positive cases between 10 September and 16 September saw a small increase of 3% compared to the previous week.

However, there has been a 30% increase in the number of tests carried out since the end of May.

New data released on Thursday by the Department of Health and Social Care also showed 402,782 close contacts of people who have tested positive for COVID-19 have been reached through the system since the start of the Test and Trace programme.This is 77.8% out of a total of 517,601 people who were identified as close contacts. The remaining 114,819 people (22.2%) were not reached.

Since its launch on 28 May, more than 11% of people living in England have been tested at least once, the department said.This includes regular re-testing of care home staff and residents, with the service sending out more than 100,000 tests a day to care homes.The government has set a target to reach 500,000 tests a day by the end of October.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Thursday the government was still on track to hit that target.

Addressing why people should follow the instructions of the NHS Test and Trace app launched on Thursday, Boris Johnson said: “The crucial thing is for people to follow the guidance.

“When you’re contacted by NHS Test and Trace and told that you’ve been in the presence of somebody with coronavirus – we’re going to give you support to help you through the period of self-isolation.”You should do that because that’s the best way to stop the spread of the virus and just bear in mind now that there are also fines for people who don’t follow the guidance.”

The upward trend in positive cases continues in the latest statistics for Test and Trace, which show that 19,278 new people in England tested positive between 10 September and 16 September.

The upward trend in positive cases continues in the latest statistics for Test and Trace, which show that 19,278 new people in England tested positive between 10 September and 16 September.

In the previous week, that number was 18,371, so this is a rise of 3% – which, inevitably, begs all sorts of questions.

Does a 3% rise mean the outbreak is flattening off? Does the fact that it comes after last week’s big jump of 167% show that the outbreak is still heading in the wrong direction?

In truth, it’s hard to be sure, because the recent struggles of the testing system mean that this already noisy data is now positively cacophonous.

Looking at the overall trend, alongside other data, it’s clear that cases are rising: up 180% since the end of August. How fast and how far remains to be seen.

Of course, we are testing far more, which increases the number of cases, but you can account for that by seeing how many people test positive per test conducted – a measure known as the positivity rate.

This produces a worrying result. In the previous week the rate was 0.97%. This week it’s 1.78%. That’s a jump of 80% in a week.

Death and hospitalisations haven’t spiked in the UK yet, but they are increasingly, and in recent days they have risen sharply in France. It’s still possible they might stabilise in the UK, but altogether the signs aren’t encouraging.

One big caveat: any rise could be prevented by new measures like the rule of six, but their impact won’t be felt in these numbers for some time. We’re looking back here, not forward.

Yet when it comes to measures to protect against the virus, these statistics also tell a gloomy tale.

Speed is essential in this crisis, but only 28.2% of in-person test results were received within 24 hours compared to 33.3% in the previous week.

What’s more, it’s becoming increasingly clear that Test and Trace in England is not going to be able to reach every contact.

This week’s figures show it successfully reached 77.7% of people who tested positive – or, if you prefer, missed 22.3%.

Dig a bit further into the data and you see that, of the community contacts they handed over, only 64.3% were reached.

As the outbreak spreads into the general population, missing three in 10 contacts makes it hard to be confident about England’s ability to stop cases turning into clusters.

It’s worth stressing that in absolute terms, these numbers are nowhere near as bad as anything the UK experienced during the crisis – and there’s still so much we don’t know about how this second spike will develop.

© 2020 Sky UK


News – Coronavirus: Test and trace figures show positive cases up almost three times on end of August