Coronavirus: Weekly COVID-19 cases up 61% in England, Test and Trace figures show

1 October 2020, 11:29 | Updated: 1 October 2020, 12:25

There has been a 61% increase in the number of people testing positive for COVID-19 In England in the latest weekly data, Test and Trace figures show.

More than 31,000 people were found to have the coronavirus in England between 17 September and 23 September - the highest weekly number since Test and Trace was launched at the end of May.

"Positive cases have been rising steeply over the last four weeks with over four times as many positive cases identified in the most recent week compared to the end of August," Test and Trace said on Thursday.

The positivity rate has now exceeded the WHO suggested level of 5% for the first time. It is 5.28% - the highest since the scheme began.

The WHO said for the virus to be under control the proportions of tests giving a positive result should be less than 5%.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has implored Britons to follow rules introduced in a bid to stem a rise in COVID-19 cases and avert a second lockdown.

At a news conference on Wednesday the PM's scientific advisors warned the virus is starting to get out of control.

Sir Patrick Vallance said: "we don't have this under control at the moment".

"This is headed in the wrong direction, there is no cause for complacency."

The figures from Test and Trace show the system is still failing to reach 80% of the close contacts identified by those testing positive.

This is the benchmark the PM's scientific advisers said would need to be reached to stop the virus spreading.

According to the latest stats some 71.6% of close contacts of people who tested positive for COVID-19 in England were in the week ending September 23.

This is down from 76.3% in the previous week, but above the 69.9% for the week to September 2, which is the lowest weekly figure to date.

For cases handled by local health protection teams, 97.6% of contacts were reached and asked to self-isolate in the week to September 23.

For cases handled either online or by call centres, 64.3% of close contacts were reached and asked to self-isolate.

There has been a rise in the proportion of people who have an "in-person" test getting their result within 24 hours.

The data shows that 38.1% of people at a regional site, local site or mobile testing unit - a so-called "in-person" test - received their result within this timeframe.

This is up from 28.2% in the previous week and follows weeks of problems with people accessing tests.

Although it is down from the week ending July 1, when 94.3% of in-person test results were returned in 24 hours - the best the service has performed.

Boris Johnson had pledged that, by the end of June, the results of all in-person tests would be back within 24 hours.

Just 2.9% of people in England who used a home test kit for Covid-19 received their result within 24 hours in the week to September 23.

This is up slightly from 1.8% in the previous week, which was the lowest weekly percentage since Test and Trace began.

Some 30.4% of people received the result of a home test within 48 hours, up from 11.3% in the previous week.