Britain Pledges to Trace Contacts of Everyone Who Tests Positive for COVID-19

LONDON — The British government says it will soon be able to trace the contacts of everyone who tests positive for the coronavirus.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock says the government has recruited 21,000 contact tracers, including 7,500 health care professionals and thousands of call handlers. He says the team will “help manually trace the contacts of anyone who’s had a positive test and advise them on whether they need to isolate.”

A robust contact-tracing effort is a key part of plans to lift Britain's lockdown.

Britain initially lagged behind many countries in testing but now has the capacity to do more than 100,000 a day for the virus, though the target is not always met. The government is now aiming for 200,000 a day, and Hancock says anyone over the age of 5 who has coronavirus symptoms is now eligible for a test.

A mobile phone app that will alert users if they have been in contact with an infected person is being tested on the Isle of Wight, an island off England’s south coast with a population of 140,000. The government says the trial has revealed some issues with the app, including a failure to work on some phones, but that these are being addressed.


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