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Coronavirus: Test & Trace explained

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The NHS Test and Trace system is now up and running and anyone across the UK who shows symptoms of coronavirus can now get a free test to see if they have coronavirus.

The Test & Trace service aims to find, contain and control the virus and reduce its’ spread. Crucially, the service plays an important part in protecting individuals as we move out of lockdown.

But what is the NHS Test & Trace system and how are we affected by it?

What is Test & Trace guidance for anyone who has got coronavirus symptoms and for people who have been in close contact with someone who tests positive?

Can you remind me of the symptoms of coronavirus?
Anyone across the UK who shows symptoms of COVID-19 can now get a free test to see if they have coronavirus. You can book a test on the website: nhs.uk/coronavirus or via 119.

The main symptoms of coronavirus are:
⦁ A high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
⦁ A new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
⦁ A loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you’ve noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal

If you are contacted by the NHS Test & Trace service, what will they want to know?
⦁ If you have family members or other household members living with you. In line with the medical advice they must remain in self-isolation for the rest of the 14-day period from when your symptoms began
⦁ The NHS Test & Trace system will be interested to know if you have had any close contact with anyone outside of your household in the 48 hours before you developed symptoms and the time since you developed symptoms. Close contact means:
⦁ having face-to-face contact with someone (less than 1 metre away)
⦁ spending more than 15 minutes within 2 metres of someone
⦁ travelling in a car or other small vehicle with someone (even on a short journey) or close to them on a plane
⦁ If you work in – or have recently visited – a setting with other people (for example, a GP surgery, a school or a workplace)

Contact tracers will ask you to provide, where possible, the names and contact details (for example, email address, telephone number) for the people you have had close contact with, this information will only ever be used to find those at risk of infection. As with your own details these will be held in strict confidence and will be kept and used only in line with data protection laws.

What happens if the NHS Test & Trace service contacts me and I don’t respond?
The NHS Test and Trace service will contact you by text message, email or phone, including sending reminder messages and calls. If the service is unable to reach you by text message, email or phone, we may write to you at your home address. If the service is unable to reach people through these means, they can escalate to health protection experts, so further action can be considered. It is vital that you respond if contacted by the NHS Test & Trace service to help contain and control the virus and ultimately help to save lives.

What measures are in place to protect people from fraudulent calls?
It is understood that people may be wary of criminals sadly looking to capitalise on this national effort and to safeguard against this, the National Cyber Security Centre have advised on measures to keep everyone safe. Importantly, official NHS Test and Trace contact tracers will never ask you for financial details, PINs or passwords. They will also never visit your home. For further information to protect yourself against any fraudulent activity, check NHS and gov.uk pages.

Where does NHS Test & Trace apply?
The NHS test and trace service is for England only, there are comparable contact tracing systems in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

For further information, visit: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus

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