NHS Test and Trace launches campaign to encourage everyone with symptoms to get a free test

NHS Test and Trace will today (July 30) launch a new campaign to encourage everyone to get a free test as soon as they get symptoms, alongside a new business plan to expand testing capacity and prepare the nation for winter.

It comes as weekly statistics show NHS Test and Trace continues to break the chain of transmission across England, with more than 218,000 people now contacted who have tested positive for the virus, or recently been in contact with someone who has.

The new public health campaign across England will help build public understanding about the integral role NHS Test and Trace plays ‒ including encouraging people to get a free test as soon as they develop symptoms and making them aware of the need to respond to the service if contacted.

Restaurants, pubs, salons and gyms are among the businesses who are being supported by NHS Test and Trace to log their customers to prevent transmission and help contain the virus.

Wembley Stadium seating with the text: Let's get back to the things we love. Let's get tested.

The campaign is underpinned by a new business plan for NHS Test and Trace which outlines how the service will expand ahead of the winter. The number of tests given to people without symptoms will increase to 150,000 per day by September, with testing capacity to double to 500,000 with more than 500 testing sites by October.

Chief Executive Chair of NHS Test and Trace, Dido Harding, said: “The NHS Test and Trace service is a vital part of enabling us to get back to safely doing the normal things we love, and will become ever more important as we approach winter.

“By working in partnership with local public health and local authority teams we are already helping stop the spread of coronavirus across England, by reaching over 200,000 people who may have been at risk of passing it on.

“I urge everybody to get a free test as soon as you experience coronavirus symptoms and to follow the advice you’re given if you are contacted by the service. If we all continue to play our part, then together we can stop the spread of this virus.”

Data from the 8th week of operation (16 to 22 July) of NHS Test and Trace shows that:

  • 81.4% (3,455) of the people who had tested positive for coronavirus and were transferred to NHS Test and Trace were reached by contact tracers and asked to share details of their close contacts. This compares to 80.5% in the previous week
  • 75.1% (13,974) of close contacts were reached and advised to self-isolate. This compares to 78.4% in the previous week

In total, since 28 May 2020:

  • 42,964 people have newly tested positive for coronavirus in England during this period, with 43,119 transferred for contact tracing ‒ including some people testing positive before contact tracing began
  • 77.6% (33,472) of the people who tested positive for coronavirus and were transferred to NHS Test and Trace were reached by contact tracers and asked to share details of their close contacts
  • 83.0% (184,703) of close contacts were reached and advised to self-isolate

Testing statistics for the 8th week of operation (16 to 22 July) NHS Test and Trace shows that:

  • 366,397 people were newly tested for coronavirus (COVID-19) under pillar 1 (testing in hospitals and outbreak locations) and pillar 2 (national swab testing) in England
  • test results for 91.0% of people tested under pillar 1 were made available within 24 hours of the laboratory receiving the test for processing, increasing from 87.4% in week 7 (9 to 15 July)
  • around half of people (50.6%) tested under pillar 2 received the result within 24 hours of taking a test
  • in-person testing at mobile testing units, and walk-through and drive-through testing sites returned 76.4% results in 24 hours, with 95.3% the next day after the test was taken

To meet the new testing targets set out in the business plan, the current testing network will grow and improve, and government will invest in the most innovative and promising testing technologies. Work is also ongoing to expand the UK’s laboratory capacity even further over the coming months.

Getting a test for coronavirus will also become much easier. People will be able to get a test closer to where they live, with the number of testing sites increasing to over 500 locations in England. By October, the majority of people living in urban settings will be no more than a 30-minute walk from a test site.

NHS Test and Trace will continue to work closely with specific communities and regions to overcome barriers individuals and communities may face with Test and Trace, whether as a result of disability, language or a lack of digital access.  

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