Great Britain

What is NHS Test and Trace strategy and how does it work?

THE UK'S NHS Test and Trace strategy launched on May 28, with hopes that it will pave the way to lifting the coronavirus lockdown.

It is hoped that the pioneering system will help the UK overcome the deadly virus. Here's how it works.

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What is the test, track and trace strategy?

The test, track and trace strategy is one of the key ways in which the UK can exit lockdown and avoid a second wave of coronavirus.

Different to the contract tracing app which is being trialled on the Isle of Wight, the NHS Test and Trace Service launched with a team of 25,000 contact tracers on May 28.

Anyone who has come into contact with someone who has tested positive for the deadly bug will be told to self-isolate.

It is hoped the test, track and trace system will reduce the spread of the virus by identifying and containing the bug.

Testing

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said that they have a capacity of 200,000 tests a day - but has been slammed by UK Statistics boss for fudging the numbers.

The 100,000-a-day target was met at the end of April as they look for widespread swab testing.

Currently, NHS coronavirus tests are available to:

In total, some 25 million people are now eligible for coronavirus testing in the UK.

People can also get tested through the NHS, at temporary drive-through centres, or via satellite testing centres which will be established where there is an urgent need.

Three "mega-labs" have also been set up in Glasgow, Milton Keynes and Cheshire, to boost capacity.

Tracking

To understand how coronavirus spreads through the population, 20,000 households will be recruited and routinely tested over 12 months.

Ultimately, 300,000 participants will be involved in the study.

"High accuracy" antibody tests will be used to understand how immunity could work in those recovering from the disease.

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Those taking part will be swab-tested and asked questions by a health worker during a home visit.

The tests will be repeated every week for five weeks, and then monthly for a year.

In addition, millions of Brits could find out if they've had coronavirus as 100 per cent accurate antibody tests are set to be rolled out this month.

Testing giant Roche Diagnostics has finally created a kit accurate enough to be used at scale - and the firm says it has enough to provide the NHS with hundreds of thousands every week.

Trace

The NHS' digital research division NHSX is developing a smartphone app which will alert people that they have been exposed to someone with coronavirus.

People living on the Isle of Wight are among the first to test out the service – provisionally called “NHS – Covid-19”.

NHS staff on the island will be able to use it before being rolled out to its citizens.

The app will work by using Bluetooth to log when another user’s smartphone has been in close proximity.

If a person develops Covid-19 symptoms, they can report their symptoms to the app and immediately organise a test.

The tech automatically sends out an anonymous alert to other users they may have infected, urging them to self-isolate if necessary – thus stopping further spread.

They will then have the ability to book a coronavirus test.

Experts estimate if 60 per cent of Brits used the app on their phone, then future outbreaks could be prevented.

Contract tracers will interview people who test positive, to find out where they have been and who they have been in contact with.

Everything you need to know about the NHS Covid-19 tracking app

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