Test & Trace – We All Need To Understand The Process

Test and Trace has been running for a week and it’s clear from media coverage and the PR focus of the Government that many of us still don’t understand it fully, and who is eligible for testing and how the tracing process works.

Even more importantly, not enough people with coronavirus symptoms are ordering a test. Here’s an excellent BBC article on how the system works. It answers many of the questions we might have, including how it protects your privacy.

A Few Key Points

  • No-one contacted as a result of you testing positive for coronavirus will be told your identity.
  • Anyone in England with coronavirus symptoms can now get a test.
  • The tracers will only be calling from 0300 0135 000 (see below for advice on avoiding Test and Trace scams)

Coronavirus: How does contact tracing work in England

People who have been in close contact with someone found to have Covid-19 are now being traced. The NHS contact tracers will ask people they get in touch with to self-isolate for a fortnight.

Getting tested & what happens if I test positive for coronavirus?

The hope is that contact tracing will avoid the need for national lockdowns, with more local restrictions used instead. Anyone in England with coronavirus symptoms can now get a test. If it’s positive you’ll be contacted by text, email or phone and asked to log on to the NHS Test and Trace website. There you will be asked for personal information including:

  • Name, date of birth and postcode
  • Who you live with
  • Places you visited recently
  • Names and contact details of people you have been in close contact with in the 48 hours before your symptoms started

Close contacts are:

  • people you spend 15 minutes or more with at a distance of less than 2m
  • people you have direct contact with – such as sexual partners, household members or people with whom you have had face-to-face conversations at a distance of less than 1m

The contact must have taken place between two days before and up to seven days after symptoms appeared. No-one contacted as a result of you testing positive for coronavirus will be told your identity. A parent or guardian will need to give permission for a call with under-18s to continue.

What if I am contacted by the tracers?

Anyone deemed at risk of infection will be told to stay at home for 14 days. You will be asked to self-isolate, even if you do not have symptoms, to stop the danger of the virus spreading. You should not leave your home for any reason. If you need food or medicine and live alone, you should order it online or by phone, or ask friends and family to drop it off on your doorstep.

if you live with other people they won’t have to self-isolate, unless they also develop symptoms, but they must take extra care around you regarding social distancing and hand washing.

Graphic: How manual contact tracing works

How is the tracing scheme going?

Not enough people with coronavirus symptoms are ordering a test, says the chair of NHS improvement, Baroness Dido Harding.

How do I avoid scammers?

The NHS Test and Trace service will not ask you:

  • for bank details, or payments
  • for details of any other accounts, such as social media
  • to set up a password or PIN number over the phone
  • to call a premium rate number, such as those starting 09 or 087

England’s Health Secretary Matt Hancock says the tracers will only be calling from 0300 0135 000.