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Proportion of COVID-19 contacts reached by English tracing scheme falls again


LONDON (Reuters) - The proportion of the contacts of positive COVID-19 cases reached by England's test and trace system fell again in its fifth week of operation, figures from the health ministry showed on Thursday.

The Department of Health said 4,347 people had their cases transferred to the system between June 25 and July 1. There were 14,892 people identified as close contacts, and 70.8% were reached and asked to self isolate.

Last week, 73% were reported to have been reached in the fourth week, and 82.4% reached in the third week.

On Thursday, the department of health revised the proportion reached in week four to 74.2%.

It said in total, 31,421 people had been transferred to the system since it began on May 28, with 75.7% reached by the system.

In all 144,501 contacts of those people had been reached, 85.1% of total contacts identified.

Officials said the average turnaround time for tests was improving, with 97.5% of tests results returned the next day when a test was completed in person.

"We are committed to continually improving NHS Test and Trace ... This week we have seen test turnaround times improve further," said Dido Harding, executive chair of NHS Test and Trace.

The government also announced a pilot scheme for asymptomatic testing of taxi drivers, cleaners and retail assistants, to see how effective they are and to determine demand for such testing.

(Reporting by Alistair Smout; editing by Kate Holton and Elizabeth Piper)

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