Contact tracers in Wales reach more people who have tested positive for the virus than those in England, it has been revealed.
The faster a contact tracer is able to contact someone who has tested positive for coronavirus, identify close contacts and contact those concerned, the easier it is to contain the spread.
Though there are differences between how the data is collected in Wales and England due to the different test and trace schemes in place, there is a significant contrast in how many people who have tested positive for the virus in Wales are contacted compared to those in England.
New figures published by the Welsh Government show that show that between August 30 and September 5, of the 440 positive cases that were eligible for follow-up in Wales, 424 (96%) were reached and asked to provide details of those they have recently been in contact with.
Out of the 482 new cases last week, 42 were not eligible for follow up by local contact tracing teams. This is due to them either being recorded in closed settings like hospitals and prisons or due to them not being a resident in Wales.
In comparison in England, the Department of Health and Social Care found that 8,908 people were transferred to the contract tracing system between August 27 and September 2. Of those transferred, 7,367 (82.7%) were reached and asked to provide their information about their contacts.
In Wales, of the 1,789 close contacts that were identified after speaking to a person who has tested positive and eligible for a follow-up from contact tracers, 1,589 (89%) were successfully contacted and advised accordingly.
In England, 32,359 related contacts were identified as contacts from positive cases for the week August 27 to September 2. Out of that number just 69.2% were reached. However where communication details were available, 79.4% were reached and asked to self isolate.
The data, however, is not completely comparable due to the fact that England and Wales capture figures in a slightly different way.
The Department for Health and Social Care in England split contacts of positive tests into non-complex and complex cases. Out of the 32,359 cases that were identified as contacts last week, 25,164 were non-complex and 7,195 were complex.
Complex cases are linked to potential outbreaks in specific settings and are handled by PHE local health protection teams.
The department said there has been a steep increase of 130% in the number of non-complex contexts identified in the most recent week. They claim non-complex cases have a higher proportion of contacts who are unable to be reached which explains why the figures have changed so drastically in the last week (from 91.1% of contacts reached to 69.2% this week).
For the first time since contact tracing began in Wales, the Welsh Government has published how long it has taken for contact tracers to successfully contact positive cases and any identified close contacts.
Of the 440 positive cases that were eligible for follow up, 92% were contacted within 24 hours of referral to the contact tracing system and 95% of positive cases that were eligible for follow-up were reached within 48 hours (between August 30 and September 5).
Looking at the same time period, of the 1,789 close contacts that were eligible for follow-up, 78% were reached within 24 hours of being identified by a positive case and 87% of close contacts were reached within 48 hours of being identified by a positive case.
This data is important to track and understand as the aim is for the process to be done as fast as possible to minimise the spread of the virus.
However things like people not being able to answer their phone – which is the first point of contact that will be attempted by a contact tracer in Wales – may delay the process, according to experts.