The latest figures from NHS Test and Trace have shown “some small improvements” but the system still has some ways to go, according to NHS Confederation director Layla McCay.
Between 17-23 September, 31,373 people tested positive for COVID-19 in England, a 61% increase compared to the previous week.
During the same time period, 593,655 people were tested for the first time, which was consistent with previous two weeks but an 32% increase on the end of August.
Although the number of those transferred to the contact tracing system increased by 37% to 29,037 compared to the previous week, only 71.3% were reached and asked to provided information about their contacts.
This has declined from 80.8% in the previous week, with the percentage of people reached returning to similar proportions observed when the Test and Trace system was first launched back in May.
“There have been some small improvements in the test and trace figures week-on-week, such as the decrease in turnaround times for test results and an increase in testing capacity,” said McCay.
“But the fact remains that the percentage of people identified as close contacts who were reached and asked to self-isolate continues to fall, while cases have now more than quadrupled since the end of August, meaning the virus is likely to continue to spread widely.
“Now more than ever, the country needs a test and trace system that is absolutely watertight, especially as more and more people are referred to contact tracing, with a commensurate increase in the number of close contacts who must be successfully traced if the system is to work,” she added.