Covid-19 Response

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:37 pm on 18th May 2020.

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Photo of Matthew Hancock Matthew Hancock Secretary of State for Health and Social Care 3:37 pm, 18th May 2020

With 21,000 contact tracers now employed, we think that that is capacity for the current level of new cases that have been demonstrated by the Office for National Statistics surveys, but I am perfectly prepared to hire more to make sure that we have spare capacity within contact tracing.

On the number of tests needed daily to service test and trace, it depends on exactly how many new cases there are. It depends on the relationship between the symptoms and the number of positive cases. There are many more people with symptoms than there are positive coronavirus cases, but the number is falling because we are moving away—well away now—from the flu season, and at this time of year the number of positive symptoms, including coughs and fever, tends to fall, because other non-coronavirus communicable diseases such as flu are falling. There is not a specific answer to that question, because it changes over time. On weekly tests, we are looking to put together a plan to ensure that we cut in-hospital transmission, which will include appropriate, regular testing of the right staff in the NHS. I shall write to my right hon. Friend with more details as and when that policy is fully announceable.