Coronavirus: Only two people in Islington have used test and trace system, council leader says

The NHS Test and Trace system is live. Picture: PA/Danny Lawson

The NHS Test and Trace system is live. Picture: PA/Danny Lawson - Credit: PA

The leader of Islington Council only knows of two people from the borough who have gone through the government’s test and trace system – and claims it’s sending the local authority “c*** data”.

The NHS test and trace system, which launched on May 28, is designed to track people who have been in contact with those who have tested positive for Covid-19.

Some 25,000 contact tracers are employed to ask anyone considered at risk of infection to isolate for 14 days.

A contact tracing app is currently being tested on the Isle of White but is not yet ready to be rolled out across the UK.

Cllr Richard Watts told the Gazette: “We are getting absolute cr*p data from the test and trace system as it has been set up, and the private tests that people are just doing off their own backs through private testing companies obviously none of that data gets shared with us at all.

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“So there are lots of legitimate questions, for example about the impact on BAME (Black, Asian and minority ethnic), of other vulnerable residents through this crisis. We have tried incredibly hard to get meaningful data to tell us what is going on. A, there have been so few tests done and, B, so little of that has then been shared with local government – it’s really difficult to get any robust data.”

Cllr Watts says the council gets a notification when someone comes forwarded to be tested via the track and trace system, but the only information provided is their “name, status and postcode”.

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He added: “We have been notified of two Islington residents who have gone through that system. I understand these things take a while to set up, which begs the question: why the hell weren’t we trying to do this in March not in June? And it is farcical for this little data to get shared with local government.

“I want to see maximum data sharing with local government to allow us to understand what’s going on in our own areas, and I want to see the government stop making exaggerated claims that are effectively misleading the public about how advanced their system is.”

On June 2, Channel 4 revealed 4,456 confirmed cases of Covid-19 were reported to track and trace between May 28–31. Coronavirus sufferers provided 4,634 contacts – of whom only 1,749 had been contacted.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We have now launched NHS test and trace to help stop the spread of the virus and save lives, and have appointed Tom Riordan, CEO of Leeds City Council, to lead the joint work between government and local authorities.

“We’ve made £300 million available to local authorities, and are providing them with support through Public Health England to fight infections in care homes and help tackle wider outbreaks in businesses and the community.”

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