By Rachael Grealish
Matt Hancock has formally announced the launch of the NHS Test and Trace system from tomorrow, in England.
In the Coronavirus Daily Briefing today, Wednesday May 27, lead by the health secretary, it was announced the NHS Test and Trace system would be available from 9am on Thursday, May 28.
Mr Hancock said that until an effective treatment or vaccine comes through, NHS test and trace is a big part of how the country can move forward out of lockdown, saying it needs to be a national effort.
He said: “Through testing we hunt down the virus – I use ‘we’ deliberately, we all have our part to play.”
For the system to work, when a person starts to display COVID-19 symptoms they must isolate immediately and get a test, the health secretary said.
He continued to say the next step is that the clinician and patient identify the possible movements of the virus and who else it might have infected – then those contacts will be isolated and break the chain of transmission.
In the briefing he said the NHS now has the capacity to perform 161,000 tests a day and this means testing, from tomorrow, will extend to children under five.
Meaning everyone who has symptoms can have a test, despite their age.
Mr Hancock said the government is ‘relying on’ and ‘trusting’ the public to self isolate when they are given the instruction to do so, but he added: “We can quickly make it mandatory if that’s what it takes… It’s your civic duty to follow the instructions.”
Baroness Harding, chair of NHS Improvement and the government’s lead on the test and trace programme, spoke after Mr Hancock.
She said if a person has one of the symptoms of coronavirus, that person must immediately self-isolate.
It is at this point the person should then book a test on nhs.uk/coronavirus or call 119, if they do not have access to the internet, and do not leave homes for any other reasons.
If a person tests positive, the test and trace service will contact the, within 24 hours, she says.
NHS test and trace will help people establish who they may have infected and gather their contact details.
The Baroness added, this could be someone you’ve been in contact with for more than 15 minutes or in your own household.
If you’ve been in contact with an infected person, NHS test and trace will instruct you to self-isolate, even if you don’t have symptoms and the Baroness stressed people must follow these instructions.