Army of THOUSANDS of coronavirus tracers ‘will be recruited to track down infected people’s contacts’ as part of plans to stem the virus
- Council staff and civil servants will be among thousands drafted in to help
- Contact tracing was abandoned a month ago as ministers focused on testing
- Claims three-tier tracing system could be in place before next review on May 7
- Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19
An army of thousands of contact tracers will be trained in just a few weeks to help Britain ease out of lockdown, it was claimed today.
Contact tracing for coronavirus patients was abandoned a month ago as cases spiralled and ministers focused on testing instead.
But council staff and civil servants will soon be drafted in to reintroduce tracing, which the Government hopes will mean social distancing measures can slowly be lifted, reports The Times.
Experts expect to be able to track at least 80 per cent of the people a coronavirus patient has come into contact with within 24 hours of diagnosis.
They and those they have met can then be quarantined to help reduce any further spread.
Council staff and civil servants will soon be drafted in to reintroduce contact tracing in the UK, which the Government hopes will mean social distancing measures can slowly be lifted. File image used
Yesterday Matt Hancock told MPs: ‘As we bring the number of new cases down so we will introduce contact tracing at large scale.
‘Our goal is to get to a point where we can test, track and trace everybody who needs it.’
The newspaper claims tracing measures could be ready to go before the next lockdown review on May 7.
The NHS is believed to be developing a smarphone app (pictured) that can log contact via Bluetooth
Experts believe that Britain will have the capacity to test 100,000 people a day by the end of next week, which will be enough to reintroduce contact tracing.
They also hope to randomly test 20,000 households as part of a new study to better understand how the virus has spread across Britain. The first wave of research is due to be rolled out in early May.
The World Health Organisation has warned that any country wanting to end their lockdown must ‘find every trace and quarantine every contact’.
In the UK this would be done with a three-tier tracing system, according to The Times.
The NHS is believed to be developing a smarphone app that can log contact via Bluetooth, but a second tier of tracing is also being planned, with a third made up of senior Public Health England experts.
Pictured: Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty at yesterday’s Downing Street press conference
But at yesterday’s Downing Street press conference, Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty painted a different picture, warning that social distancing measures would likely be in place for the rest of 2020.
He said they cannot be lifted until either a vaccine for coronavirus or ‘highly effective’ drugs to treat the disease become available.
The CMO did not specify whether the strict ‘stay at home’ policy which is currently in place would have to be in place for the remainder of the year.
Other experts have suggested that some of the strictest measures, including school closures, could be eased as long as there was not a spike in virus cases.
But Professor Whitty was very clear that the only real exit from the lockdown – to allow a full return to normal life – would involve a medical breakthrough.