An army of 25,000 contact tracers has been recruited pending the launch of a new test-and-trace system to stop the spread of the coronavirus, the government said.
The system, which consists of detecting and advising people who may have come into close contact with someone who tests positive for the virus, will be launched at the end of this week.
The government aims to have human contact tracers available by June 1 – the earliest date for schools and nonessential stores to open in England.
Widespread contact tracking was halted in mid-March as the number of Covid-19 cases in the UK increased dramatically, but a test, track and trace (TTT) strategy is now seen as a crucial part of efforts to facilitate locking and a second wave of infections to avoid.
The government is also currently testing a contact tracking app designed by the NHS digital division, NHSX, on the Isle of Wight affected by delays.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has attempted to downplay the importance of the delayed app in the contact tracking process.
He originally said the app would roll out in mid-May, but now he’s delayed by a few weeks.
The public will be asked to work closely with the newly hired contact tracers, who will lead a national virtual call center operation, the government said.
The contact tracers will request that individuals who test positive for Covid-19 share information about who they have been in recent, long-term close contact with and who may have been exposed to the virus.
This is likely a member of someone’s own household or colleagues, the government said.
By informing those who may have been exposed, contact tracers can ensure they receive advice and guidance to protect them and prevent the virus from spreading.
The government will provide detailed guidance this week on actions to be taken by the public.
A No. 10 spokesperson said on Saturday, “A test and trace system will allow us to isolate new infections so that we can control the spread of this virus, which is vital as long as the coronavirus remains in the UK.
“If we continue to recover, this will mean that in the long term the vast majority of the public will no longer have to be locked, but that a targeted number of people will be able to close.
“For this to be effective, everyone must remain alert and do their bit to control the virus and save lives.
“By working with our tracers and adhering to the rules, the public is unwittingly preventing the virus from spreading to their families and loved ones, and this new testing and tracking service will help control the corona virus.”