MORE than half of close contacts of people with coronavirus are still not being reached by the test and trace system in Bradford, figures suggest.

Data from the Department for Health and Social Care shows that 25,272 people who tested positive for Covid-19 in Bradford were transferred to the Test and Trace service between May 28 and November 18. That means 2,787 new cases were transferred in the latest seven-day period.

Contact tracers ask new patients to give details for anyone they were in close contact with in the 48 hours before their symptoms started.

This led to 59,589 close contacts being identified over the period – those not managed by local health protection teams, which are dealt with through a call centre or online.

But just 49.2 per cent of those were reached, meaning 30,283 people were not contacted or did not respond. However, that was slightly up from the 48.8 per cent reached in the period to November 11.

It comes as Bradford Council, which runs a local test and trace programme, has again called on the Government to allow it to expand its service.

Council leader Susan Hinchcliffe said: “Because of our local test and trace programme in Bradford we have seen a successful increase in the proportion of positive case contacts reached - up from 73% to 85%. We have asked Government if we can extend our service to the contacts of positive cases but this is not part of their plans at the moment."

She added: “We know the national system only recognises individuals, not households. That means that when one person tests positive for COVID, that person provides all the members of their households details as contacts.

"If that person gives the same telephone number for all these contacts in their household that results in multiple subsequent phone calls to the same house. This leads to an overwhelming number of calls, particularly to large households.

"People then disengage and the calls are unsuccessful. Government are telling us that they are working on identifying households as well as individuals but have yet to resolve it.

“Test and Trace is only useful if people do as advised and self-isolate. I have written to Government again to ask for more financial support for those individuals on a low income who will be impoverished by not being able to work.”

Kirklees and Wakefield councils have launched a similar local service this week. It aims to make contact with hard to reach positive cases to identify their close contacts where the NHS service has been unsuccessful.

Officers will follow up with people yet to respond to NHS Test and Trace, initially calling them from a local number. If contact is still unsuccessful a home visit may take place.

Across England, 58.8 per cent of contacts not managed by local health protection teams were reached and told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace in the week to November 18.

Local health protection teams deal with cases linked to settings such as hospitals, schools and prisons. The contact tracing rate including these cases was 60.3 per cent – down slightly from the week before when it was 60.7 per cent.

Around 157,000 new cases were transferred nationally in the week to November 18, the highest weekly number since NHS Test and Trace was launched.