A record 390,000 positive cases of COVID-19 were reported between 31 December and 6 January, the highest weekly figure to date, the Department of Health and Social Care has announced.
Additionally, a record one million people were reached by NHS Test and Trace contact tracers during the reporting week, while 683,124 contacts of people who tested positive were reached by NHS Test and Trace during the reporting week. This means that 92.7% of contacts, and 86.6% of those who tested positive, were reached over the new year week. This is an increase of 48% (331,758 more) compared with the previous week.
‘As cases rise across the country, so the demands on NHS Test and Trace increase. It gives me great pride to see our teams rising to meet that challenge. We are making tests available to anyone who needs one, and reaching a large proportion of those that test positive and their contacts – more than a million this reporting week. Everyone working in NHS Test and Trace and using the service can feel confident that what they are doing is contributing to saving lives and protecting the NHS,’ said Interim Executive Chair of the National Institute for Health Protection Baroness Dido Harding.
‘We’re not stopping there. We are continually seeking to make the system quicker and easier to use. A fleet of 500 new and improved mobile testing units will be deployed to areas of greatest need, adding to our already extensive network of test sites, while testing capacity in our labs continues to increase, with capacity now at more than 790,000 tests per day.’
The news comes as the NHS steps up efforts to vaccinate the public. The first seven NHS Vaccination Centres were activated on 11 January, with hundreds more GP-led and hospital services are also due to open along with the first pharmacy-led pilot sites, taking the total to around 1200. The new large-scale NHS Vaccination Centres – including one on the site of the London Nightingale Hospital, Bristol’s Ashton Gate stadium and Manchester’s Etihad tennis club – offer a convenient alternative to GP-led and hospital services.
Letters are being sent out to more than 600,000 people aged 80 plus who live up to a 45 minute drive from one of the new centres, inviting them to book an appointment.
‘Increasing supplies means the NHS can open even more vaccination services and protect even more people this week,’ said Professor Stephen Powis, the NHS’s national medical director.