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Half full or empty?

June 26, 2020 12:01 PM

kdf (Thanks to Morning Brew for sharing their work on Unsplash.)The scenes of packed beaches at Bournemouth and Southend, the mass celebration of Liverpool's Premier League title and various parties getting out of control across trhe country suggest that people aren't waiting until July 4 to get out and party. Staying a meter plus away from each other looks a feint hope - and that is before alcohol becomes freely available!

Which got us thinking how important having a robust track and trace programme in place actually is in combating any outbreaks that might flare up

With the tracing app moving from being " game changing" to the cherry on the cake to now possibly available by the winter ( maybe!) we have to fall back on the manual system to keep some control

The data for week three has just been reported by Reuters. Of 6,923 people who had their case transferred to the contact-tracing system in its third week of operation, 1,791, or 25.9%, could not be reached, with no contact details provided for a further 263 people. 81.7% of identified contacts of positive cases were reached and asked to self-isolate. That is down from the 90% that were reached last week,

In other words there has been no improvement in the success rate of the scheme with large numbers of people who have the disease or have been in contact with someone that has not processed through the scheme. Very much today the glass is still half empty!

Responding to news that the latest figures Liberal Democrat Health, Wellbeing and Social Care spokesperson Munira Wilson said:

The latest tracing figures are alarming and provide yet more evidence that England's Test & Trace system is in disarray.

With the Prime Minister's announcement that lock-down will ease dramatically in a few days' time, a robust and effective system to test, trace and isolate every case of coronavirus to keep people safe is absolutely critical.

Without this system - let alone a cure or a vaccine - the risks of a second peak are grave indeed.

Millions have made heart-breaking sacrifices since lock-down began. Rushing the return to a 'new normal' without the proper safeguards in place risks going backwards. Ministers must be crystal clear about the action they are taking to guarantee the system is fully functional by 4 July. They must also confirm how they will deal with new surges, including plans for local lock-downs.

The last word goes to Dr David Nabarro, a World Health Organization Covid-19 special envoy, who said on Radio 4 this morning

When I saw the early figures I thought 'this is a great start but there's more to be done'. Then I've seen actually the numbers have stayed pretty static for the last three weeks.

And if I was in charge of the contact-tracing system I would be really asking myself: why is it proving so hard to find all those who have got the disease and to get to their contacts?

It does appear there is still a real reluctance among some British people to be open about their contacts and perhaps they feel it's an intrusion into their privacy.

And I say here and now when you're trying to get rid of this virus, contact tracing is absolutely critical. It's the only way to do it. And we have that information now from all over the world.

So if you're in any doubt please do cooperate on this contact-tracing issue because it is key to getting down to the low levels that we need for life to recover and people to go about their lives as they wish to.