York’s own test and trace system launches tomorrow – Here’s how it works

Taking a coronavirus test at a walk-through testing centre in Edinburgh. Photograph: Andrew Milligan / PA Wire

York’s own test and trace system launches on Thursday – as part of efforts to halt the spread of coronavirus in the city.

It means the local public health team will contact people who need to self-isolate, but who the national system has not managed to reach.

The local system kicks in if the national test and trace team has tried and failed to contact a person for 48 hours.

Public health team leaders get a report of the people who need to be contacted each day, according to a council report which outlines the local test and trace procedure.

A text message is sent to those contacts, through the government notify system, with the text titled ‘CYCTracing’ and the message reads: “You are identified as Covid-positive; we therefore need to speak with you, so please expect a call soon from City of York Council on this number: 01904 551559.”

This is followed by three phone calls made over the next 24 hours, in the afternoon, evening and following morning, to try to speak to the person.

If the team has still not managed to get through, they will visit the contact’s home address and post a letter outlining important information and contact details if no one is at home.

More contacts

Leader of City of York Council Keith Aspden

The report says local test and trace systems have increased the number of people contacted in other areas of the country – and that tracers can also help residents find the support they need such as food and medicine deliveries during self-isolation.

It adds that four staff will be appointed to the team to cover evening and weekend shifts, and that the jobs have been advertised recently.

Sharon Stoltz, York’s director for public health, said: “Test and Trace is one of the key methods to support the lowering of transmission rates and keeping York residents safe. The more people we contact, the lower we can bring the rate of transmission. This also helps us gather local intelligence, which enables us to provide a more effective response to the spread of the virus.

“I want to thank everyone who has, is and will self-isolate when asked to do so, it really does make a difference.”

Council leader Keith Aspden added: “Together with partners across the city we have been lobbying the Government to provide capacity to establish a localised tracing program to support the national system, which unfortunately continues to fall short of expectations.

“Where contact tracing has been localised in other parts of the country it has been hugely successful in reaching more of those who have contracted coronavirus quickly, helping to slow the spread of the virus.”

Contact tracers will ask for details of anyone a covid-positive person has met with in the 48 hours before they developed symptoms and during the time since developing symptoms. They will never ask for bank details, payment or any login information.