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The testing saga rumbles on.
After weeks of controversy over the way in which the government measures progress against its testing targets, Matt Hancock relented somewhat yesterday after an intervention from the UK Statistics Authority.
In a written response to UKSA – which raised concerns about the government’s methodology earlier this month – Mr Hancock pledged to publish more detail on test data. This includes overall daily capacity (self-reported by individual laboratories) and more details on future revisions and changes.
Daily Insight notes the timing of the response’s publication on the same day as the headline-grabbing announcement of the launch of the new test and trace programme.
But if Mr Hancock wants to improve the government’s reputation on statistics, he may want to have a word with his boss. Giving evidence to Parliament’s Liaison Committee, Boris Johnson claimed the UK was “carrying out more tests than any other European country”.
International figures show Germany is ahead of the UK on the number of tests processed overall, while the UK is behind several countries such as Spain, Italy, Portugal and Belgium on the number of tests carried out per capita.
Quibbles over testing figures aside, the test and trace programme marked a new chapter in England’s battle against covid-19.
The long-awaited NHS app will play a part in the programme, but deployment has been put back a few weeks to give the public a chance to get used to the new guidance on self-isolation.
When the app is launched, it will be important for NHS and social care staff to remember not to use it while in situations where they will be close to covid-19 patients but wearing personal protective equipment.
Not disabling the app in such a scenario risks confusion over the need for health and care staff to isolate or not, should their app alert them to their contact with an infected person.
Employers must remind staff of their “personal responsibilities” when using the app in health and social care settings, according to the chief executive of the council in charge of piloting the software.