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Test and trace fails to reach almost a third of positive coronavirus cases in Barking and Dagenham, figures show

PUBLISHED: 07:00 04 September 2020

The NHS test and trace system has not reached almost a third of people. Picture: PA/Danny Lawson

The NHS test and trace system has not reached almost a third of people. Picture: PA/Danny Lawson

PA Wire/PA Images

The coronavirus test and trace system has failed to reach almost a third of the borough’s positive cases, government figures reveal.

London Assembly member Unmesh Desai urged Public Health England to work more with town halls to reduce the differences. Picture: James O JenkinsLondon Assembly member Unmesh Desai urged Public Health England to work more with town halls to reduce the differences. Picture: James O Jenkins

The service which aims to trace the spread of Covid-19 and isolate new infections reached 69 per cent of people in Barking and Dagenham who were transferred to it.

A total of 109 people out of 157 were reached from the start of test and trace until August 19, data from the Department of Health and Social Care shows.

It is the lowest in London but higher than Essex on 63pc. Camden is the highest in the capital with 87 out of 101 (86pc) of people traced.

Unmesh Desai, London Assembly member for City and East which includes Barking and Dagenham, has written to Publich Health England (PHE) to urge the health body to “get a grip” on the situation and close the gap.

Mr Desai said: “Test and trace is a crucial tool in our efforts to contain a potential second wave of coronavirus, but it has had a bumpy start to put it lightly.

“The fact that Barking and Dagenham has a lower tracing rate than many other boroughs is a significant cause for concern and is putting people at risk.”

The town hall does not oversee test and trace in the borough, but Mr Desai called on PHE to collaborate more closely with the local authority.

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More resources, coordination across the capital and a more nuanced approach to local requirements were also among Mr Desai’s recommendations.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “NHS Test and Trace is working and is breaking chains of transmission - over 325,000 people, who would otherwise be unwittingly spreading the virus, have been contacted.

“We are working with directors of public health to mobilise local contact tracing in London boroughs, utilising their expertise and resources to increase the number of people reached by Test and Trace.

“The public continue to have a massive role to play - we need everyone with symptoms to get tested and provide information on who they have been in close contact with if they test positive,” he added.

Council leader Cllr Darren Rodwell wrote to health secretary Matt Hancock MP in April with the leader of Redbridge and Barking and Dagenham’s MPs, asking for a testing site in the borough.

A successful bid will see three walk-in test centres set up, the first of which opened on Thursday, September 3 at Mayesbrook Park car park in Lodge Avenue.

The centre is open from 8am to 8pm daily. To book, call NHS 119 or visit nhs.uk/coronavirus

The site is for pre-booked appointments, but people can turn up without an appointment. You will need a mobile phone to register. Visit lbbd.gov.uk/covid-19-testing-sites for more details.

Public Health England has been contacted for a comment.


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