Health Secretary Matt Hancock admits Britain may not hire its army of 18,000 contact tracers until mid-May
- Ministers last week announced a three-step plan to ease UK out of lockdown
- It included recruiting 18,000 contact tracers to ramp up a surveillance scheme
- Mr Hancock last night said he did not expect to have that many until mid-May
- He also admitted that he did not know how many had already been recruited
- Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19
The Health Secretary last week announced that some 18,000 staff will be put in place as part of the mass-testing scheme
Health Secretary Matt Hancock last night admitted that Britain may not hire its ‘army’ of 18,000 contact tracers until mid-May.
Ministers last week announced a three-step battle plan to ease the UK out of lockdown, which included ramping up a contact tracing programme.
But when asked about the topic in last night’s Downing Street conference, Mr Hancock said he did not expect the tracers to be ready until mid-May.
He revealed that the Government hopes to have them in place either before or alongside the NHS app is ready to be rolled out.
Mr Hancock also did not know how many had already been recruited. MailOnline today asked the Department of Health for an update on recruitment but has yet to hear back.
Mr Hancock said: ‘We hope to have the contact tracers in place before or at the same time as the app goes live. We’re expecting that to be ready by the middle of May.’
He also said requirements must be put in place for anyone who comes into contact with an individual who has tested positive as part of the plans.
It comes amid growing concern ministers will fail to reach their pledge of carrying out 100,000 coronavirus tests each day.
Only 43,000 were conducted on Monday, the most recent day for which figures are available. It means Britain is not even halfway to reaching the target.
Yesterday it was revealed the long-awaited NHS coronavirus contact tracing app for smartphones could be ready in a fortnight.
The Government will launch a widespread contact tracing scheme to track down people who have been in touch with infected patients
HOW WOULD AN NHS CONTACT-TRACING APP WORK?
According to researchers, the app being developed by NHSX would likely work as follows:
- Users install the app on their smartphones.
- The app logs every time the device comes into close proximity of another app user’s phone.
- Users exhibiting coronavirus symptoms self-report on the app.
- The app tells these users to self-isolate, along with their household.
- It also notifies any other users logged as having recently come into contact with them/
- These users also isolate, along with their households, and so on.
The app will notify users if they have been in close contact with a COVID-19 patient. It is currently being trialled at a Royal Air Force base in Yorkshire.
Matthew Gould, chief executive of NHSX – the health service’s tech arm – said tests were going well and it could be rolled out nationwide in two weeks.
Users self-report coronavirus symptoms or log they have been officially diagnosed, and the app alerts everyone who has come into contact with them.
The app – a key part of Number 10’s ‘test, track and trace’ initiative – will help play a role in easing the draconian lockdown and getting Britons back to work.
Epidemiologists have warned that the app will need at least 60 per cent of the UK – or 40million people – to sign up for it to be effective.
But downloading it will not be mandatory, so there are no guarantees that enough Britons will use it for it to have any effect.