NOT a single Covid-19 patient was receiving mechanical ventilation from the Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust, while just one person in the trust’s vast area had been diagnosed with the virus in the 24 hours before the Herald’s weekly catch-up with Dr Ed Wernick on Tuesday this week.
However, Beijing’s re-entry into lockdown tells us we’re not out of the woods yet – and Dr Wernick says public engagement with the NHS Test and Trace programme and ongoing social-distancing measures will be vital to avoiding a second spike and keeping hold of our new privileges.
NHS Test and Trace was launched late last month, and goes hand in hand with the UK’s expanded community testing programme. Anyone with symptoms is asked to call 111 or 119 to arrange for a test, and if they test positive, to provide details of who they have come into contact with for more than 15 minutes at a range of less than two metres.
They will then be asked to self-isolate for seven days, and their close contacts for 14 days.
“Test and Trace is an essential part of the fight to stop a second peak of Covid-19, and is a significant arrow in our quiver, along with hand washing, face coverings and social distancing,” said Dr Wernick, Farnham’s lead GP for Covid-19, and a GP at the Downing Street Surgery.
“What it’s trying to do is get early detection and early containment of any new cases of the virus. So long as we can maintain that, and keep that ‘R’ value down, it means they can keep progressing the phased reduction of lockdown.
“But it relies on people engaging with it and at least answering their phone. So far NHS contact tracers have had just a 75 per cent contact rate of positive cases, which means 25 per cent of people are currently slipping through the net.
“People want to go away on their summer holidays and enjoy other freedoms and we all need to engage with this.
“Health secretary Matt Hancock said we have a ‘civic duty’ to engage with Test and Trace, and I’d absolutely support that.
“We still don’t have any sight of a start date for a vaccine coming in and know whether it’s actually possible yet. We know this is going to be a long haul, but we want to be able to relax these measures to give people a better quality of life.
“It is essential people engage with Test and Trace, and the Covid Act has made it a legal requirement that we adhere to specific measures.”