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Tue, 11 August 2020

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Matt Hancock says 100 local coronavirus outbreaks being tackled every week

Matt Hancock says 100 local coronavirus outbreaks being tackled every week

The Government has already begun testing people working in “high-contact” professions, the Health Secretary said. (Image: PA)

2 min read

More than 100 local outbreaks of coronavirus are happening every week, Matt Hancock has revealed.

The Health Secretary said the Government was acting “swiftly and silently” to contain flare-ups across the country.

His comments came as a farm in Herefordshire became the first business to be locked down after 73 workers tested positive for Covid-19.

Around 200 workers at the site have been told to self-isolate.

Meanwhile the city of Leicester remains in lockdown, with the Health Secretary set to review those restrictions — which kicked in as the rest of England experienced an easing of coronavirus curbs — in the coming days.

Writing for The Telegraph, Mr Hancock said the UK’s testing regime meant health officials could be increasingly “targeted” in their response to local outbreaks.

“The vast majority of people are engaging with NHS Test and Trace, isolating when asked and providing their contacts quickly,” the Health Secretary said.

“And crucially, we are finding more and more cases through testing.

“The result is we can lift more of the lockdown, and take targeted action. Each week there are over a hundred local actions taken across the country – some of these will make the news, but many more are swiftly and silently dealt with. 

“This is thanks in large part of the incredible efforts of local authorities – all of whom have stepped up and published their local outbreak control plans in line with the end of June deadline.”

The latest figures on the Government’s test and trace programme, which aims to target cases and locate those who may have come into contact with an infected person, show that 31,421 people who tested positive for Covid-19 in England have had their case transferred to system in its first five weeks.

Of those total, 23,796 people – 76% – were reached and asked to provide details of recent contacts, while 21% of people could not be reached.

Mr Hancock said the service was now acting as the Government’s “radar”, helping officials and ministers “to understand how this virus is spreading, so we can hunt down coronavirus and keep it contained“.

The Government has already begun testing people working in “high-contact” professions, Mr Hancock said, including asymptomatic taxi drivers, cleaners, and sales assistants.

And he urged the public: “The message is simple: if in doubt, get a test.”

Mr Hancock’s comments came as AS Green and Co, a farm in Herefordshire that supplies vegetables to supermarkets including Sainsbury’s and Asda, went into lockdown after scores of staff members — including those with no symptoms — tested positive for the virus.

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