Thursday 3 December 2020 12:32 pm

Positive coronavirus tests fall 28 per cent as England's lockdown makes its mark

Positive Covid cases dropped more than a quarter in England last week, according to the latest Test and Trace figures, as the country begins to feel the effects of the nationwide lockdown.

Figures from the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) found that just over 110,000 people in England tested positive for coronavirus in England in the week to 25 November, marking a 28 per cent slump on the previous week. 

For the first time in months, NHS Test and Trace boosted the number of contacts traced over the 70 per cent mark, after chief executive Baroness Dido Harding faced a grilling over the app’s performance.

The latest figures showed that 72.5 per cent of the 246,604 people identified as a close contact of someone who tested positive for Covid-19 in the week to 25 November were asked to self-isolate.

It marks a significant improvement on the 60 per cent success rate seen in recent weeks, which last week meant Test and Trace failed to reach almost 138,000 Covid contacts.

However, recent tweaks to the system mean the overall number of contacts now being traced by Harding’s scheme has dropped significantly.

“Under-18s in a household will no longer be contact traced individually, providing the parent or guardian in the household confirms they have completed their legal duty to inform their child to self-isolate,” DHSC announced today.

“This operational improvement has resulted in an increase in the proportion of contacts reached, and the proportion reached within 24 hours.”

Harding’s Test and Trace has been beleaguered with hiccups since its inception six months ago. A spreadsheet error last month meant almost 16,000 positive cases were missed and added to the nation’s coronavirus tally weeks later.

Documents leaked to Sky News last week unveiled plans from Test and Trace bosses to “rebuild public trust” among local councils, as the app repeatedly fails to meet targets.

Pascale Robinson, campaign officer at We Own It said: “Another week has gone by, and we’re seeing yet more abject failure from the privatised national test, track and trace system.

“Changing the way the data is measured might paper over the cracks, but it doesn’t change the fact that the system is failing.”

It comes after the UK reported a further 16,170 coronavirus cases and 648 deaths yesterday.

Health secretary Matt Hancock assured that “help is on the way”, as Britain’s drug regulatory body yesterday gave the green light for the Pfizer/Biontech vaccine to be rolled out to the public. 

The government has ordered 40m doses of the vaccine, with the first 800,000 — enough to vaccinate 400,000 people — set to be distributed to hospital hubs across the UK over the next few days.