News, Policy & Media

12Aug

Daily Covid-19 cases breach Government targets

The rise in cases of coronavirus reaching over 1,000 positive test results per day breached a target set by Government in May. The Joint Security Centre agreed upon a ceiling figure of 1,000 cases per day, a level which the UK needed to stay under to avoid flare-ups of the virus. Last weekend, on the 9th August, the UK saw the largest daily rise in coronavirus cases in six weeks as 1,062 more people were diagnosed. It marked the first day that daily virus cases reached over 1,000 since June. Scientists have said that this level of cases should once again hit this level is “unacceptable, ineffective and dangerous”.

A May 20th document on the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) website set out a list of targets which it felt were essential markers to maintain to avoid COVID-19 ‘flare-ups’. An important target was to keep new daily infections below 1,000. “Decreasing daily incidence of symptomatic cases in all regions across the UK until the target acceptable incidence is reached, then incidence kept below that target”, it said. Although the daily rate did drop under 1,000 after the 9th of August, the Office for National Statistics said last week they estimated that there were 3,700 new cases per day. These cases are not being picked up by testing efforts and, consequently, NHS test-and-trace programme has appealed for more people to come forward for testing.

Test and Trace is due lose a third of its workforce as it morphs into a more local-driven programme, rather than the privatised, central structure it has had in its first few months of operation. SAGE had advised this disbanding of the centralised network which was failing to suppress local outbreaks. It urged the discontinuation of private contracts with Serco and Sitel companies on the 23rd August when these arrangements are due for renewal. Their contact tracers reached only 56% of the 91,785 contacts of newly infected people transferred from the test system over nine weeks, a SAGE report said. The service will now be driven by local health authorities who will have use of two-thirds of the current centralised Test and Trace workforce. In an effort to raise the rate of positive cases who are contacted, council workers will be deployed to knock on residents’ doors if calls from contact tracers are not responded to.

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