Boris Johnson’s test-and-trace service has seen another fall in its contact-tracing rate as the number of people testing positive soared across England.
The figures for the week of September 17 to September 23 showed that just 71.6% of “close contacts” of Covid cases were reached by the system.
For the 14th week running, the figure is below the 80% figure that the government’s scientific advisers have said is needed to make the entire policy viable.
In line with the September surge in cases, NHS Test and Trace reported 31,373 people testing positive for the first time – a 61% week-on-week increase and four times as high as the number at the end of August.
But the service’s performance has gone backwards on the percentage of people it reached, dropping to 71.3% from 80.8% the week before.
And on the key proportion of the “close contacts” of those fed into the system – defined as someone who was less than two metres from someone with Covid for more than 15 minutes – just 71.6% were reached, down from 76.3% the previous week.
The news came as it emerged that Deloitte, a private firm used by NHS Test and Trace, was trying to sell its services to local councils.
Testing turnaround times did improve, although they remain well short of the 100% target set by the PM for the end of June.
In the week to September 23, 38.1% of in-person tests – from local test sites, mobile testing units and regional test sites – were received within 24 hours compared to 28.2% in the previous week.
That still means that only four in 10 of such tests get results within the timeframe set by Johnson.
For all routes combined, 16.9% of tests from all test sites were received within 24 hours of a test being taken compared to the record low of 10.3% in the previous week.
Figures for home testing kits continue to be low, with just 2.9% of people in England receiving their result within 24 hours, up slightly from 1.8% in the previous week.
The stark difference in public sector and...