The Sun : What is the coronavirus test, track and trace strategy and how does it work?

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THE UK'S "test, track and trace" strategy has begun, paving the way to lift lockdown.

Trials for the NHS's new contact-tracing app have begun on the Isle of Wight, and it is hoped that the pioneering tech will help the UK overcome the deadly virus.

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The Government's new NHS Covid-19 contact tracing app
PA:Press Association
The Government's new NHS Covid-19 contact tracing app[/caption]

What is the test, track and trace strategy?

All residents on the Isle of Wight were asked to download the app ahead of a national roll-out on June 1.They are the first in the UK to trial the app and it's part of the Government's testing system.

The app was initially slated for a late May launch but was delayed as Government fears it has one shot to get it right.

According to the prime minister, Boris Johnson: "I have great confidence that by June 1, we will have a system that will help us very greatly to defeat this disease and move the country forward.

"It will be in place by June 1."

Here's how the strategy works:


Medical workers take swabs at a drive-thru coronavirus testing station in the car park of Chessington World of Adventures Resort
PA:Press Association

Health Secretary Matt Hancock committed to providing 100,000 tests a day by the end of April.

That target was met, although the figure included kits sent out in the post which had not yet been returned.

However, it dropped back to 85,000 on Sunday, May 3.

Currently, NHS coronavirus tests are available to:

  • Frontline health and social care workers, with or without symptoms
  • Hospital patients and care home residents, with or without symptoms
  • All other essential workers with symptoms
  • Anyone over 65 with symptoms
  • Anyone who goes out to work because they can't work from home and who has symptoms
  • Anyone who has symptoms and lives with someone who meets the above criteria

In total, some 25 million people are now eligible for coronavirus testing in the UK.

People can also get tested through the NHS, at temporary drive-through centres, or via satellite testing centres which will be established where there is an urgent need.

Three "mega-labs" have also been set up in Glasgow, Milton Keynes and Cheshire, to boost capacity.


To understand how coronavirus spreads through the population, 20,000 households will be recruited and routinely tested over 12 months.

Ultimately, 300,000 participants will be involved in the study.

"High accuracy" antibody tests will be used to understand how immunity could work in those recovering from the disease.


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Those taking part will be swab-tested and asked questions by a health worker during a home visit.

The tests will be repeated every week for five weeks, and then monthly for a year.

In addition, millions of Brits could find out if they've had coronavirus as 100 per cent accurate antibody tests are set to be rolled out this month.

Testing giant Roche Diagnostics has finally created a kit accurate enough to be used at scale – and the firm says it has enough to provide the NHS with hundreds of thousands every week.

The new NHS app is being trialled on the Isle of Wight
PA:Press Association


The NHS' digital research division NHSX is developing a smartphone app which will alert people that they have been exposed to someone with coronavirus.

People living on the Isle of Wight will be among the first to test out the service – provisionally called "NHS – Covid-19".

NHS staff on the island will be able to use it before being rolled out to its citizens.

The app will work by using Bluetooth to log when another user's smartphone has been in close proximity.

If a person develops Covid-19 symptoms, they can report their symptoms to the app and immediately organise a test.

The tech automatically sends out an anonymous alert to other users they may have infected, urging them to self-isolate if necessary – thus stopping further spread.

They will then have the ability to book a coronavirus test.

Experts estimate if 60 per cent of Brits used the app on their phone, then future outbreaks could be prevented.

The Government will recruit 18,000 people for manual contact tracing in  May.

These contract tracers will interview people who test positive, to find out where they have been and who they have been in contact with.

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