LONDON, May 28, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – The U.K.’s senior health minister has said a new “test and trace” system which will tell healthy people to quarantine for 14 days if they have been in close contact with someone who tests positive for the coronavirus, could “quickly” become “mandatory.”
Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, made the remarks at yesterday’s daily coronavirus press briefing.
“The instructions to people are clear,” Hancock said.
“If you get symptoms, isolate immediately and get a test. If you are contacted by NHS tests and trace instructing you to isolate you must – it is your civic duty so you avoid unknowingly spreading the virus and you help to break the chain of transmission,” he continued.
“This will be voluntary at first because we trust everyone to do the right thing, but we can quickly make it mandatory if that's what it takes.”
Hancock warned the British public that “if we don't collectively make this work, then the only way forward is to keep the lockdown.”
Hancock repeated the possibility of the system becoming mandatory in an interview this morning on Sky News, saying that “there are powers that we took through parliament at the start of the crisis in the Coronavirus Act to be able to mandate this.”
People who test positive for the coronavirus will be interviewed by members of what is being widely described as an “army of 25,000 contact tracers” in order to learn of other people who they have been in close contact with.
The contact tracers will then inform those people of the need to stay at home. The NHS website explains that people who are told that they’ve been in contact with a person who has coronavirus must self-isolate for 14 days and not leave home for any reason. “If you need food or medicine, order it online or by phone, or ask friends and family to drop it off at your home,” the website says.
Anyone who lives with someone who tests positive for the coronavirus must automatically self-isolate for 14 days. But individuals living with people who have been told to self-isolate because they have been in contact with someone else who has coronavirus, do not need to self-isolate if they do not have symptoms.
Baroness Dido Harding, executive chairwoman of NHS Test and Trace, explained that “close contact” means “members of your household, or someone you've been in two meters of for more than 15 minutes.”
Harding said that Britons need to follow instructions from the NHS to self-isolate for 14 days “even if you don't have symptoms or you feel perfectly well.”
The U.K. is also in the process of developing a coronavirus tracking app which is expected to launch nationwide in June. The app is currently on trial in the Isle of Wight and uses bluetooth signals on smartphones to monitor who people have been in close contact with in the past 28 days. According to reports, messages will be sent to people asking them to self-isolate if they have been in close contact with individuals who test positive for the coronavirus.