UK Politics

Weekly coronavirus cases highest since Test and Trace system launched

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There has been a 43% increase in the weekly number of coronavirus cases in England, according to new figures.

In the seven days to 2 September, a total of 9,864 people tested positive for COVID-19.

This is the highest weekly number since the government's Test and Trace system was launched at the end of May.

And it comes despite the number of people being tested levelling off.

Chart showing the positive test rates of COVID-19

As coronavirus cases spike, particularly among young people, Boris Johnson has announced a maximum of six individuals in England can gather together indoors and outdoors from Monday.

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Positive cases have been rising since the start of July and are now 12% higher than the number recorded when the scheme began on 28 May.

The number of people newly tested increased from mid-June, but has levelled off over the last five weeks.

More from Covid-19

Also in the week to 2 September, around 30% of close contacts of people who tested positive were not reached by contact tracers.

The figure of 69.2% who were reached is the lowest weekly percentage since the system was up and running.

The number is down slightly from 69.8% in the previous week.

For coronavirus cases handled by local health protection teams, 96.6% of contacts were reached and asked to self-isolate in the week to September 2.

By contrast, for those cases handled either online or by call centres, 61.3% of close contacts were reached and asked to self-isolate.

Contacts were more likely to be reached in the South West and South East than they were in the North West, West Midlands and Yorkshire.

Just 42% of contacts have been reached in Bradford for cases handled online or by call centres. This is the lowest proportion for any local authority area in England.

For cases in Peterborough, 46% of contacts have been reached, for Blackburn with Darwen the figure is 48%, and for Kirklees and also Nottingham the number is 49%.

The total number of close contacts identified has decreased by 41% since the start of contact tracing.

This has been driven by a decline in the number of complex close contacts identified, which includes people who work at or have recently visited a hospital, care home, or prison.

Meanwhile, 61.9% of people who were tested for COVID-19 in the week ending 2 September at a regional site or mobile testing unit in England received their result within 24 hours.

This is up from 53.3% in the previous week, but down from 63.4% in the week to 12 August.

Boris Johnson press conference / downing street briefing
PM lays out 'rule of six' restrictions

Amid the coronavirus spike in nationwide cases, the prime minister pinned hopes on a new massive testing regime being piloted in England next month.

Asked by Sky News' political editor Beth Rigby whether without a mass testing regime in place people should accept having smaller gatherings at Christmas, the PM said "it is just too early to say".

However, he said he is "hopeful" the new restrictions will get the current spike down.

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