Positive Covid rates fall for the first time since August, new figures reveal

POSITIVE rates of coronavirus have fallen for the first time since August, new figures reveals.

The latest NHS Test and Trace data suggest that England's national lockdown may be beginning to have an impact on Covid-19 rates.

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Figures published today shows that, in the week ending November 11, the proportion of people testing positive for Covid-19 had dropped to 9.6 per cent from 9.7 per cent the week prior.

It's the first time the positivity rate has dropped since August.

Positivity rate differs from the exact number of people who have tested positive – which Test and Trace said was 167,369 in the same week.

It is the highest weekly number since Test and Trace was launched and an increase of 11 per cent on the previous week.

MASS TESTING

However the number of people getting tested was up 12 per cent – with 1.7million people reached, which will have had an impact on that figure.

Of the 313,771 people identified as coming into close contact with a positive cases, 60.5 per cent were reached, similar to the record low proportion of 59.6 per cent hit last month.

It means that around four in 10 contacts of people testing positive for Covid-19 are still not being reached through the Test and Trace system.

This is the fifth week in a row that the figure has been just above 60 per cent – meaning a little under 40 per cent of contacts continue to be missed.

For cases managed by local health protection teams, 98.9 per cent of contacts were reached and asked to self-isolate in the week to November 11.

Those managed either online or by call centres, saw 58.9 per cent of close contacts reached and asked to self-isolate.

 

For cases managed either online or by call centres, 58.9% of close contacts were reached and asked to self-isolate.

Downing Street defended the "colossal" achievements of Test and Trace but acknowledged improvements could be made.

A No 10 spokesman said: "We are testing more people per head of population than any other European country and that will grow thanks to our increased testing capacity."

But "we accept there are still improvements to be made, and we will continue to work on it".

A total of 38 per cent of people who were tested for Covid-19 in England in the week ending November 11 at a regional site, local site or mobile testing unit – a so-called "in-person" test – received their result within 24 hours.

This is up slightly from 37.5 per cent in the previous week.

OUT OF TOUCH

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 June 3 that 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".

Of the 156,853 people transferred to the Test and Trace system in the week to November 11, 84.9 per cent were reached and asked to provide details of recent close contacts.

This is down slightly from 85.6 per cent in the previous week, which was the highest weekly percentage since Test and Trace began.

Some 13.7 per cent of people transferred to Test and Trace in the week to November 11 were not reached, while a further 1.4 per cent did not provide any communication details.

We have seen more tests processed and more positive cases contacted than ever before, which means we are finding the virus where it hides and reducing its spread

Baroness Dido Harding, interim executive chair of the National Institute for Health Protection, said: “Our first defence against this virus is washing our hands, wearing face coverings and following governmental guidelines on social distancing.

"Alongside this, NHS Test and Trace is a valuable tool to stop transmission and drive down the R rate.

“This week we have seen more tests processed and more positive cases contacted than ever before, which means we are finding the virus where it hides and reducing its spread.

“As the number of people using NHS Test and Trace continues to increase, so the service is constantly evolving and improving.

"This week sees the introduction of changes to the contact tracing programme to reduce calls to the same family household, which should reduce duplicate calls, as well as the introduction of Sunday collections of tests from priority boxes by the Royal Mail, which should improve home test turnaround times.

“Meanwhile, our commitment to increasing capacity continues, with our announcement this week of two new ‘mega labs’ that will see testing capacity grow by 600,000 a day by next year, while generating local employment."

Health Minister, Lord Bethell, said: “Through a massive concerted effort by everyone involved in NHS Test and Trace, we have now processed more than 35 million tests, rolled out nearly 680 test centres meaning the average distance to travel to one is now 2.6miles, boosted testing capacity to more than 500,000 a day, and seen more than 2.3 million people successfully contacted by our contact tracers.

"This is a great achievement, in which all involved should feel rightly proud.

“Our efforts don’t end there however. The mass testing pilot currently underway in Liverpool, the rapid testing being made available to directors of Public Health, and the latest mass testing pilot, launching this week in Methyr in Wales, are proof of our ongoing commitment to expanding and improving the NHS Test and Trace programme.”

Prof Tim Spector, who runs the ZOE Covid Symptom Study app, said: “The reason we’re seeing this static picture and an R value that’s close to 1 is because we’re seeing a different picture across the country.

“What’s happening is that around five areas of the UK are decreasing in numbers and five areas are increasing in numbers.

“This is part of the way the pandemic happens and perhaps nothing whatsoever to do with the recent national lockdown – it might just be those tier effects working.”

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