Instead of transferring responsibility for touch tracing to local public health teams, the government faces revived demands for the central NHS test and trace scheme to be abolished.
For England, weekly test and trace figures reveal that it hit just under 60% of near contacts of people who tested positive, the lowest since the service launched. It comes as the Office for National Statistics showed that the steep growth in new infections in England was leveling off and stabilizing at about 50,000 a day.
Sir John Oldham, assistant professor of public health innovation at Imperial College London and former head of the Department of Health’s large-scale transition, said: “lockdown would be a letdown” until trust is strengthened by dramatic test and trace overhaul.
“He told Today’s BBC Radio 4 show,” I believe this will expand the number of small laboratories and reduce response time and, most importantly, the consequences of switching to local health managers and having ties with research teams.
By scrapping the collapsing central call centers, I’d probably get the money for that. I assume that the whole infrastructure should be covered by public health, which brings us back to the productive system we had before the NHS reforms of 2012. I assume they have proven that they have the power and efficiency-they run 95 percent touch tracing; the national call center is 60 percent.
“Oldham indicated that lockdown could be useless unless there were an efficient test and trace method to hold numbers down after controls were eased,” such as in South Korea, New Zealand, and Germany. We have repeatedly been promised this, but there has been a reluctance to deliver, “he added.”
As he promoted the use of local contact tracers, he added that confidence was paramount. Of tremendous promises and slogans, the pandemic is seen as a political movement. The virus does not return tweets or give news releases. We also need more truthfulness, clarity of facts and performance and decision-making … Better awareness gives greater trust and greater commitment to what we want people to do.
On the first day of Friday’s mass pilot scheme, thousands of people were tested in Liverpool. The software plans to test up to 50,000 persons a day until it is fully operating, said Matt Ashton, the city’s public health officer.
Nevertheless, the framework has attracted scrutiny from health professionals who have described it as not fit for function. Newcastle University public health professor Allyson Pollock said efforts to monitor asymptomatic patients went against recommendations from the Scientific Advisory Committee on Crises to prioritize tests for people who showed signs.
In the meantime, Chris Lovett, the City of London and Hackney’s deputy director of public health, said his team of six had been asked to meet persons in their area who could not be contacted by the NHS test and track. Of the 700 cases that have been moved in the last six weeks, just under half have been met and taken into the system, he added.
At this point, it would be very difficult for us to organize all the required resources to make complete touch monitoring feasible, but definitely to operate in a much closer relationship with local groups, councils, the NHS, so that we can ensure that this critical control measure is something we are committed to doing.
“The city residents have long addressed the value of having local contact, local facts, and awareness of what works for our communities.”