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England's COVID-19 test and trace system begins

The new tracking system, set in England from Thursday, is seen as crucial to helping ease lockdown measures. Contacts of those who test positive for COVID-19 will be asked to isolate for 14 days, even if they have no symptoms.

Asked why the public should follow the rules, after Dominic Cummings broke the lockdown rules, health minister Matt Hancock told BBC radio: "The vast majority of people will understand that it is in everybody’s interests that those who are at higher risk follow these ... instructions and it is very, very important that they do.

"Frankly this is about how as a country we get out of this lockdown in the safest possible way short of having a vaccine or an effective treatment."

Hancock mentioned employers should pay the wages of anyone told to stay at home and isolate by the service as this was equivalent in employment law to being off sick.

The tracing service, will have a task-force of 40,000 specialists to test those with symptoms and identify their contacts. But sanctions could be enforced if people do not comply.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have similar systems just about to launch or already running. Hancock also said the tracing app, which is being trialled on the Isle of Wight and could help locate anonymous contacts, is ready but is not yet being brought in.

Any relaxation of the lockdown will depend on a review of the measures, due to be presented to the government on Thursday by scientific advisers.

Source: Reuters


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