Signs of a slow in covid as York’s contact tracers reach more than 83% of cases national team cannot

A Covid-19 test prepared for analysis in the laboratory at Whiston Hospital in Merseyside. Photograph: Peter Byrne / PA Wire

York’s own local test and trace system successfully reached more than 83 per cent of contacts in its first week.
On Wednesday the team reached 100 per cent of people who could not be contacted by the national service.
And there are signs of the spread of the virus slowing down in the city, according to the public health team.
But they stressed it is still “early days” and remains critically important for people to follow the guidelines.


The latest provisional data says that there were 232.65 cases per 100,000 people in York on October 26 – a significant fall from the validated rates just a week before which showed just over 308 covid-19 cases per 100,000 people on October 20.

Fiona Phillips, from York’s public health team, said: “Regionally the rate is still going up across Yorkshire and the Humber, but it appears to be slowing down in York.

“It is early days and we know that it only takes a few days with increased numbers and you can see that line going up again, but we’re hoping that this is the start of a slowing in numbers of positive cases in York.”

York Hospital. Photograph: YorkMix


The city’s universities and colleges have also started to see a decline in the number of new cases, University of York vice chancellor Charlie Jeffery told a meeting on October 21.

Mr Jeffery told the meeting he had been aware of 404 cases across the universities and colleges at one point in mid October. On Wednesday the University of York recorded 27 new cases.

York launched its own test and trace system last Thursday, October 22.

The national system had been tracing just 60 per cent of contacts of positive cases – but in the first six days the local system upped that rate to reach 83.7 per cent of contacts.

The local team were given 122 people to contact in the first five days – 99 were successfully contacted, nine did not want to engage with the service and 14 could not be contacted.

Where people cannot be reached, the public health team will go to their home address to knock on the door and post a letter and information leaflet if no one answers.

Photograph: Governor Tom Wolf on Flickr

Some people won’t engage

Ms Phillips said the team are looking into why some people did not want to engage – adding that reasons might include people saying they have not been out anywhere, have not met any contacts or there may be other issues.

The local contact tracing service is currently running five days a week but will soon be open every day.
Ms Phillips said most residents have been happy to speak with contact tracers, who can also help arrange support for people while they are self isolating: “We would ask people to continue to engage with the service as it really does make a difference in slowing the spread of the virus as the vast majority have so far, which we are very grateful for.

“We know that testing positive for coronavirus can be a worrying time and we are here to help.
“Rapid contact tracing and self-isolation are a key way of stopping the spread of coronavirus.”