There was a 43% increase in the number of positive Covid-19 cases recorded by NHS Test and Trace in the week from 27 August to 2 September.
In total, 9,864 new people tested positive for coronavirus – which the service said was a ‘notable’ increase coming despite a ‘levelling off’ in the total number of tests being carried out.
Some 7,750 people who tested positive were reached by contact tracers, meaning two out of every five was not asked about their contacts.
Contact tracers were able to identify 32,359 people who had come into close contact with a person testing positive. Of these 22,328 were reached and asked to self-isolate, meaning that another 10,000 identified contacts were not told to do so.
This was slightly higher than the previous week, when 9,600 confirmed contacts went unnotified.
Labour shadow health secretary Justin Madders commented: ’There is nothing “world beating” about this. With millions of people going back to work and schools this week it is concerning that the system is not improving.’
With cases are sharply rising, the testing system has failed to respond to the increase in demand with GPs reporting that they are inundated with patient requests.
Responding to the upward curve, Prime Minister Boris Johnson yesterday set out stricter rules for social distancing in England which mean, indoors or outdoors, only six people can meet at any one time, with legal repercussions for those who break the rules.
However the rules, which come in from Monday next week, does not apply to people who meet for work or play sport, or multiple people living in a social ‘bubble’.
BMA council chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul suggested that although the Prime Minister had ’finally recognised that existing rules were too confusing’ the measures did not go far enough.
Dr Nagpaul said: ’As the pandemic has gone on, there has been little attempt to clarify conflicting messages and this must end. Take working arrangements, for example – employees are still being encouraged back into offices – which increases travel and contact with others – rather than providing more support to ensure people can work from home. Rules on where face coverings should be worn continue to be inconsistent, too.’
Dr Nagpaul also said that delaying the new rules on social gatherings until after the weekend also seemed ’illogical’ given the recent high numbers of new coronavirus infections.
A version of this story first appeared in our sister title Pulse.