Health Minister Edward Argar today blamed sick people who refused to use the phone for the early struggles of the NHS test and trace program.
The government released data yesterday indicating that in the first week of the ongoing program, some 8,117 people who tested positive for Covid-19 in England had submitted their case to the NHS system.
While 5,407 (67 percent) of these people were reached, around 2,710 (33 percent) did not provide any information about their contacts or could not be reached.
The large number of failed attempts to speak to people who tested positive immediately raised concerns about how effectively the program will stop the spread of the corona virus.
But Mr. Argar said this morning that "sometimes you just don't feel like answering the phone or answering a lot" when you feel uncomfortable when he highlights a potentially serious error in the system.
Health Minister Edward Argar today blamed sick people who refused to use the phone for the early struggles of the NHS test and trace program
NHS test and trace contact tracers failed to reach 33 percent of those who tested positive for coronavirus
He told the BBC: "Some people didn't necessarily answer the phone. You and I know what it is like to have flu, for example, and Covid-19 is a much, much worse disease.
"Sometimes you just don't feel like answering the phone or answering a lot."
He added: "This is the first week of this new program and I think it started very, very well."
Mr. Argar said the government would "continue to persecute those who did not respond."
Ministers launched NHS Test and Trace without the main contact tracking app, which is still being tested on the Isle of Wight after its development has been troubled.
Health Minister Matt Hancock previously said he wanted the app to be available nationwide in mid-May, but it was delayed and no fixed date for delivery was given.
Experts believe that the app will be critical to the success of the program because it digitally logs people's close contacts.
At the moment the system relies entirely on human testimony and physical contact tracking work performed by an army of contact trackers.
The app's contact tracking data would significantly speed up the process of determining who is in close contact with someone who has tested positive for the disease.
Mr. Argar said the app was a "complex piece of technology" and was still being tested when he tried to downplay its meaning.
He said, "Well, it's still being tested on the Isle of Wight. It is a complex technology that we continue to develop and develop.
"But in fact, Dido Harding, who runs the Test, Track & Trace program, said in a sense that the app is the cherry on the cake for this program."
Mr. Argar argued that the human tracing element of NHS Test and Trace was the most important.
He said: & # 39; It is human contact. It is the tracking that has been done … this is the core for this program to work.
& # 39; So the app has the potential to be another step forward in the future. But it's not the crucial part of it. The crucial part of it is this human trail that we have already gotten going. & # 39;
Of those who were reached and asked for information about their contacts, just over three quarters (79 percent) were contacted within 24 hours of their case being submitted to the test and trace system. About 14 percent were contacted between 24 and 48 hours, 3 percent between 48 and 72 hours and 4 percent were contacted after 72 hours
Between May 28 and June 3, 8,117 people who tested positive for the coronavirus were referred to the flagship of the NHS. However, statistics show that contact tracers could only receive information from 67 percent (5,407).
Baroness Harding admitted yesterday that NHS Test and Trace is not "on the gold standard we want to be". She added: "Is it perfectly perfect? No of course not. & # 39;
Regarding the difficulties of getting in touch with everyone who tested positive, she said: "We have not all contacts. Some were unreachable, others did not want to make contacts, others said:" Well, I already told my friends that I tested positive. "
The officials have insisted that they are satisfied with the initial performance of the program, but have admitted that improvements are needed.
Concerns have been raised that NHS Test and Trace cannot know whether people who test positive actually follow the advice on self-isolation.
Mr. Hancock has repeatedly said that people have a "civic duty" to isolate themselves if they test positive or if they are identified as a contact by someone who has done so.
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