Northamptonshire health chief's Test and Trace plea: 'We're not interested in fines, just keeping you and your loved ones well'

Increasing numbers refuse to disclose contacts for fear of landing £200 'Big Brother' tickets
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Northamptonshire's health chiefs fear people refusing to tell NHS Test and Trace staff where they were over Christmas will hamper efforts to stop the spread of Covid-19.

They believe many are wary of owning up to bending the rules during the festive period despite the risk of them passing on Covid-19 to someone else.

Yet, Northamptonshire's Director of Public Health, insists teams attempting to track down close contacts of those who test positive are not a Big Brother operation and are only interested in fighting the virus, not fines.

Lucy Wightman said: "One of key things made us able to get back on top of rates is identifying those people that case may have been in contact with and getting them to isolate to break that spread of onward infection.

GET all the latest updates by following today's Covid-19 media briefing live from 3pm Friday via the Chronicle & Echo and Northants Telegraph website

"That has been compromised by people's reluctance to admit who they had been in contact with over Christmas.

"We do think there were some people bending the national rules and also seen increase in people not willing to engage in process.

Test and Trace staff attempt to track down every Covid case to alert close contacts. Photo: Getty ImagesTest and Trace staff attempt to track down every Covid case to alert close contacts. Photo: Getty Images
Test and Trace staff attempt to track down every Covid case to alert close contacts. Photo: Getty Images

"We're not here to make judgments, we are here to simply protect the people you care about — and we know you care about them because you mixed with them over Christmas.

"Please, if someone contacts you please do engage with us, All we're interested in is your welfare, that you don't contract Covid yourself or pose a risk to other people."

The Government eased restrictions on December 25 allowing people to mix with one other household but those failing to comply risked £200 fines.

Numbers of positive tests in Northamptonshire spiked between Christmas and the New Year with more than 1,000 identified as having the virus in a single day for the first time.

And Friday's first media briefing of 2021 will hear from local officials and politicians after Northamptonshire was escalated from Tier Two to full national lockdown in less than two weeks as the number of cases rose and pressure built on the county's two main NHS hospitals.

All those testing positive plus any close contacts are told to self-isolate for ten days.

Northamptonshire set up its own Test and Trace operation last year, successfully tracking down up to 87 per cent of close contacts.