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Government's test-and-trace system has worst-ever week for contact tracing, new figures show

THE FAILING test-and-trace system has recorded its worst ever week for contact tracing, according to new figures released today.

Data shows that only 62.6 per cent of the close contacts of those who tested positive for Covid-19 in England were reached through the largely subcontracted system in the week ending October 7.

It is the lowest weekly percentage since test and trace began, and is down from 69.5 per cent the previous week.

For those handled either online or by call centres, 57.6 per cent of close contacts were reached and asked to self-isolate.

But in cases handled by local health-protection teams, 97.7 per cent of contacts were reached and asked to self-isolate in the week ending October 7.

The way the system operates has been the subject of a political storm, with Labour highly critical of private firms’ involvement.

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth highlighted reports that Boston Consulting Group executives had been paid “over £6,000 a day to run this failing service.”

He said: “In a single week this government is paying these senior consultants more than they pay an experienced nurse in a year.

“Such huge sums of money are being paid to consultants to run a service that is only getting worse.”

Labour has also called on the government to ditch outsourcing giant Serco from the £12 billion operation.

The latest data shows that 89,874 new people tested positive for Covid-19 in England in the week ending October 7 – a 64 per cent rise in positive cases on the previous seven days and the highest weekly number since test and trace was launched at the end of May.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock defended the system, telling MPs: “Through NHS test and trace we’ve built up a detailed picture of where and how this virus is spreading.”

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