Track and trace clinic laboratory chemical research of infection image by luckybusiness AdobeStock_330189630

Anyone with symptoms will be tested and their close contacts will be traced

From today (28 May 2020), anyone who tests positive for coronavirus will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace and will need to share information about their recent interactions.

This could include household members, people with whom they have been in direct contact, or within two metres for more than 15 minutes.

People identified as having been in close contact with someone who has a positive test must stay at home for 14 days. Even if they do not have symptoms, to stop unknowingly spreading the virus.

If those in isolation develop symptoms, they can book a test at nhs.uk/coronavirus or by calling 119. If they test positive, they must continue to stay at home for 7 days or until their symptoms have passed. If they test negative, they must complete the 14-day isolation period.

Members of their household will not have to stay at home unless the person identified becomes symptomatic, at which point they must also self-isolate for 14 days to avoid unknowingly spreading the virus.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said:

“As we move to the next stage of our fight against coronavirus, we will be able to replace national lockdowns with individual isolation and, if necessary, local action where there are outbreaks.

“NHS Test and Trace will be vital to stopping the spread of the virus. It is how we will be able to protect our friends and family from infection, and protect our NHS.

“This new system will help us keep this virus under control while carefully and safely lifting the lockdown nationally.”

How NHS Test and Trace works for someone with coronavirus symptoms

Isolate: As soon as you experience coronavirus symptoms, you should self-isolate for at least 7 days. Anyone else in your household should self-isolate for 14 days from when you started having symptoms.

Test: You should order a coronavirus test immediately at nhs.uk/coronavirus or call 119 if you have no internet access.

Results: If your test is positive you must complete the remainder of your 7-day self-isolation. Anyone in your household should also complete self-isolation for 14 days from when you started having symptoms. If your test is negative, you and other household members no longer need to isolate.

Share contacts: If you test positive for coronavirus, the NHS Test and Trace service will send you a text or email alert or call you within 24 hours with instructions of how to share details of people you have been in close, recent contact with and places you have visited. It is important that you respond as soon as possible so that we can give appropriate advice to those who need it. You will be asked to do this online via a secure website or you will be called by one of our NHS contact tracers.

If you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus

Alert: You will be alerted by the NHS Test and Trace service if you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus. The alert will come either by text or email and you’ll need to log on to the NHS Test and Trace website, which is the easiest way for you and the service to communicate with each other – but, if not, a trained call handler will talk you through what you need to do. Under 18’s will get a phone call and a parent or guardian will be asked to give permission for the call to continue.

Isolate: You will be asked to begin self-isolation for up to 14 days, depending on when you last came into contact with the person who has tested positive. It’s really important to do this even if you don’t feel unwell, because it can take up to 14 days for the symptoms to develop. This will be crucial to avoid you unknowingly spreading the virus to others. Your household doesn’t need to self-isolate with you, but they must take extra care to follow the guidance on social distancing and washing your hands.

Test if needed: If you develop symptoms of coronavirus, other members of your household should self-isolate at home and you should book a coronavirus test at nhs.uk/coronavirus or call 119 if you have no internet access. If your test is positive you must continue to stay at home for 7 days. If your test is negative, you must still complete your 14 day self-isolation period because the virus may not be detectable yet.

Contact tracers will never:

  • Ask you to dial a premium rate number to speak to us (for example, those starting 09 or 087)
  • Ask you to make any form of payment or purchase a product or any kind
  • Ask for any details about your bank account
  • Ask for your social media identities or login details, or those of your contacts
  • Ask you for any passwords or PINs, or ask you to set up any passwords or PINs over the phone
  • Disclose any of your personal or medical information to your contacts
  • Provide medical advice on the treatment of any potential coronavirus symptoms
  • Ask you to download any software to your PC or ask you to hand over control of your PC, smartphone or tablet to anyone else
  • Ask you to access any website that does not belong to the government or NHS

Dido Harding, executive chair of NHS Test and Trace, said:

“NHS Test and Trace will not succeed on its own – we all need to play our part. This is why we are working hand-in-hand with communities and local authorities across the country to tailor support at a local level, and respond quickly to local needs.”

A package of £300 million of new funding has been made available to local authorities to work with NHS Test and Trace to develop local outbreak control plans, building on the work already done so far to respond to coronavirus.

Responding to the government launch of the new NHS Test and Trace Service, chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, Cllr Ian Hudspeth, said:

“COVID-19 is best understood as a pattern of local outbreaks, rather than a national pandemic with a similar impact in every community, which is why councils as local leaders have a fundamental role to play in the test and trace service.

“It is good government has recognised the importance of directors of public health within councils, who need to have the necessary powers and authority to lead the response locally and tackle outbreaks early and aggressively.”

Both Bedford Borough and Central Bedfordshire Councils have been approached by the Chronicle for details on their Track and Trace plans.

A spokesperson for Bedford Borough Council said [added 14:35 28 May 2020]:

“All Local Councils have been asked to develop local outbreak plans by the end of June and Bedford Borough Council is working to this timescale. We are yet to hear what our share is of the test and trace funding, but regardless there are existing arrangements in place for the Council to work with other partners, to respond to any local outbreaks.”

Central Bedfordshire Council said [added 15:16 28 May 2020]

“Local Authorities are being asked to develop their plans by the end of June and we are working, with partners, to meet this deadline. We await conformation of our share of the Government funding which will be used to support this work.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said [added 15:51 28 May 2020]:

“Local councils already have plans in place to respond to COVID-19.

“To support the rollout of Test and Trace, all councils have been asked to extend these existing plans into dedicated Local Outbreak Plans by the end of June. Last week we gave all councils £300 million new dedicated funding to support this.”

Anyone with a new, continuous cough, a high temperature or a change in their sense of smell or taste is asked to immediately report these symptoms and book a test at nhs.uk/coronavirus.