Guidance: NHS Test and Trace statistics (England): methodology

Department Of Health

August 13
12:47 2020


DHSC publishes weekly statistics on coronavirus (COVID-19) contact tracing dating from when the NHS Test and Trace service started on 28 May 2020. These statistics cover:

  • number of people tested for coronavirus in England
  • number of people who tested positive for coronavirus in England
  • time taken for test results to become available
  • number of people testing positive for coronavirus in England that were then transferred to the contact-tracing system, and the time taken for them to be reached
  • number of recent close contacts identified, and the time taken for them to be reached

This document sets out information on the data sources and methodology are used to generate each of these measures. It will keep being updated with further detail.

Published 18 June 2020
Last updated 13 August 2020 +show all updates
  1. The methodology has been updated to include new information on the geographical breakdowns for tracing data and to include information on Coronavirus testing data in the UK. The structure of this document has also been improved to add further clarity.

  2. Updated to correct an error in how the number of people tested relates to the number of positive cases and to add further details on which cases are transferred to NHS Test and Trace.

  3. The methodology has been updated to clarify what is meant by 'newly' tested as well as expanding detail on study samples excluded from turnaround times.

  4. The methodology has been updated to include details of the new breakdowns in this weeks release. These include pillar 1 turnaround times, the number of household close contacts, and the time taken for contacts to be reached from the time that the positive case that referred them is transferred to the contact-tracing system. Also included are more details about what a close contact is and how these figures can be used.

  5. Updated to include more information on how NHS Test and Trace classifies complex and non-complex cases and contacts, and how local test sites are included in turnaround statistics.

  6. The methodology document has been updated to reflect the changes in the methodology for calculating the time taken to receive a COVID-19 test result from time of test for home testing kits. More details about pillar 1 test turnaround times and the reasoning behind the percentage of people testing positive being removed from the publication has also been added.

  7. Updates have been made throughout the methodology document, including new sections added: 'People tested compared to tests' and 'Time taken to receive a COVID-19 test result'.

  8. Added new 2 new sections on testing, and new sections on 'Number of people providing details of one or more recent close contacts' and 'Notes on interpreting against other statistics'.

  9. First published.

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