We deserve a better Covid-19 track and trace system in England

From: Imogen TaylorThe StreetBishopstone

Thursday, 18th June 2020, 11:52 am
Coronavirus stock image SUS-200618-114807001

In common with many over 70s, I am facing emerging from lockdown, but how to approach this?

Not only do I have no confidence in our government, we are not given tools with which to know what we face in local communities. Apparently, even our GPs do not know which patients have had Covid19, unless we tell them!

Weekly published Covid19 stats for East Sussex have been encouragingly low compared to many local authorities but this can change fast. Where are the cases locally – in care homes, hospitals, the community?

In conversation with a New Zealander relative I learnt they received daily updates. These specified clusters in general terms e.g. West Auckland rest home cluster, Queenstown Hereford Show cluster.

Details were provided of active cases, new cases, deaths, number in hospital, age ranges etc. Yes, NZ has a population of five million, about 1,500 Covid cases and 19 deaths! Yet, my relative who lived for many years in the UK, argues that it should be possible to provide this level of detail at local level here.

As Dr Clayton (BMA South East Coast Chair) said (June 5 letter), ‘we can’t be complacent’. She recommended ‘a widescale accurate and systematic approach’ to test and trace.

The detail I am seeking should become entirely possible within such a system and must be transparent. NZ track and trace teams were all highly trained health workers, such as community nurses and medical students.

However in England, track and trace appears to be relying less on public health expertise and more on private sector contractors with very mixed reputations, thus with significant implications for accountability. We deserve better!