The proportion of close contacts reached by England’s Test and Trace system has jumped after contact tracers stopped trying to reach all under-18s individually.
Some 72.5% of people who have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19 were reported as having been reached in the week to November 25.
The rise, from 60.5% in the week ending November 18, comes as under-18s are no longer being traced individually.
Instead a parent or guardian in the household is asked to confirm they have told the child to self-isolate, and if they have done so the child is recorded as having been reached.
If no parental permission is provided, the usual contact-tracing routes are followed.
The change means it is no longer possible to compare historically the proportion of contacts reached each week.
The latest Test and Trace report said this “operational improvement” has resulted in an increase in the proportion of contacts reached and the numbers reached within 24 hours.
Some 54.2% of in-person test results were received within 24 hours after the test was taken, compared with 50.7% the previous week
However, six months after being launched, the system is still not reaching more than a quarter of close contacts of coronavirus cases.
The figures show 110,620 people tested positive for Covid-19 in England at least once in the week to November 25.
This is down 28% on the previous week and is the lowest total since the week ending October 14.
During the latest week, more than two million tests were processed.
There are more than 700 testing sites, and a new Lighthouse Lab at Charnwood in Loughborough, which began processing tests last week, is expected to be able to test 50,000 samples a day by early 2021.
It is understood that substantial additional PCR tests will be available in sufficient quantities to meet demand in the run-up to Christmas.
A spike in requests is expected as people hope to get a negative coronavirus test before spending the festive period with elderly relatives.