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

Department Of Health


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 in England
  • distance to take a test in-person in England
  • 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 11 February 2021 +show all updates

  1. Updated to include information on additional contact tracing statistics for time taken to reach contacts from the case taking a test, and time taken to reach contacts from the case developing symptoms. Also included information on tests conducted as part of the rapid asymptomatic testing publication.

  2. Updated in line with new contact tracing policy.

  3. Updated the the section on ‘number of recent close contacts identified’ with information about counting of contacts identified by multiple people testing positive.

  4. Added information about how cases and contacts are reached.

  5. Updated to reflect changes in the reporting of positivity rates and lateral flow tests.

  6. Updated to add clarity on number of contacts who were reached by the phone or online.

  7. Updated to reflect that UK testing is no longer included in the publication.

  8. Updated to include additional information on new LFD and PCR test conducted breakdowns.

  9. Updated to include information on the operational change regarding household contacts under 18.

  10. Updated methodology for how contacts under 18 are reached and add further details on the different types of swab tests.

  11. Updated to include information on lateral flow device tests.

  12. Updated with additional detail for how testing capacity is calculated.

  13. Updated to better reflect the terminology for reaching cases and contacts, and to provide more information on some pillar 4 studies.

  14. Updated to include new terminology for cases managed or not managed by local health protection teams (previous known as complex and non-complex cases).

  15. Updated with more information on the NHS Test and Trace app.

  16. Updated with details on the new methodology for people tested and people testing positive. Added details about the NHS COVID-19 app.

  17. Updated to reflect the new breakdown on cases and contacts reached by phone or online.

  18. Updated to include methodology for additional local authority data published for pillar 2 tests processed.

  19. Update to reflect new information published

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