There has been a rise in the proportion of people who have an “in-person” Covid-19 test getting their result within 24 hours.
New data from NHS Test and Trace shows that 38.1% of people who were tested for Covid-19 in England in the week ending September 23 at a regional site, local site or mobile testing unit – a so-called “in-person” test – received their result within this timeframe.
This is up from 28.2% in the previous week and follows weeks of problems with people accessing tests.
The best performance since the programme began was in the week ending July 1, when 94.3% of in-person test results were returned in 24 hours.
Just 2.9% of people in England who used a home test kit for Covid-19 received their result within 24 hours, the latest figures show, up slightly from 1.8% in the previous week.
Some 30.4% of people received the result of a home test within 48 hours, up from 11.3% in the previous week.
Thursday’s data also showed that 71.6% of close contacts of people who tested positive for Covid-19 were reached through the Test and Trace system.
This is down from 76.3% in the previous week, but above the 69.9% for the week to September 2, which is the lowest weekly figure to date.
For cases handled by local health protection teams, 97.6% of contacts were reached and asked to self-isolate, whereas the figure was 64.3% for cases handled either online or by call centres.
A total of 31,373 people tested positive for Covid-19 in England in the week to September 23, the figures also showed.
This is an increase of 61% in positive cases on the previous week and is the highest weekly number since Test and Trace was launched at the end of May.
The Government said testing capacity was increasing and the median distance travelled by people who go for a test is now 4.3 miles, down from 5.2 miles the previous week.
Baroness Dido Harding, interim executive chairwoman of the National Institute for Health Protection, said: “One in eight people in England have now received a test at least once and with nearly 500 testing sites across the UK, the median distance to a test site is now just 4.3 miles.
“These are achievements in which everyone involved can be immensely proud.
“We are continuing to work tirelessly to increase capacity and make tests as accessible as possible.
“Our new lab partnership with Birmingham University is another example of how the public, private and academic sectors are working together to meet our target of 500,000 test capacity a day.
“In the meantime, NHS Test and Trace has now reached more than half a million people and advised them to self-isolate – and in the past week more than 14 million people have downloaded the new Covid-19 app, all of which will help break the chains of transmission.”