Coronavirus: Britons 'reluctant to cooperate with contact tracers', says expert

An expert has raised concerns that Britons are reluctant to co-operate with contact tracers. (Getty)

Some Brits are ‘reluctant’ to cooperate with NHS contact tracers, making it hard to identify people with coronavirus and their contacts, an expert has warned.

Dr David Nabarro, special envoy for the director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO) for the COVID-19 pandemic, told Radio 4’s Today programme that some British people are reluctant to open up about their contacts, feeling it is an intrusion.

The NHS test and trace system, launched on May 28, involves phone operatives calling people who have tested positive for coronavirus and asking who they have had contact with. Those people are subsequently called and, if necessary, instructed to self-isolate to restrict the spread of the virus.

However the system has come under fire, with figures suggesting it is still failing to reach 30% of people who test positive for COVID-19.

Speaking to the Today programme, Dr Nabarro said: “When I saw the early figures I thought ‘this is a great start but there’s more to be done’. Then I’ve seen actually the numbers have stayed pretty static for the last three weeks.

“And if I was in charge of the contact-tracing system I would be really asking myself why is it proving so hard to find all those who have got the disease and to get to their contacts?

“It does appear there is still a real reluctance among some British people to be open about their contacts and perhaps they feel it’s an intrusion into their privacy.”

He added:“I say here and now when you’re trying to get rid of this virus contact tracing is absolutely critical. It’s the only way to do it. And we have that information now from all over the world.

“So if you’re in any doubt please do cooperate on this contact-tracing issue because it is key to getting down to the low levels that we need for life to recover and people to go about their lives as they wish to.”

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