NHS Test and Trace


Published on 16 June 2020.

Column by Councillor James Reeder, Cabinet Member for Public Health and Prevention and Councillor Richard Rout, Cabinet Member for Environment and Public Protection.

The NHS Test and Trace service has now been running for a couple of weeks, and early reports indicate it has been performing well.

If you’re not quite sure what it’s all about, it’s basically a system to trace the spread of coronavirus, to help quickly isolate new cases and give early warnings if transmission of the virus is increasing locally. This will help greatly in slowing the spread of the virus and will save lives.

It can only be effective, if all of us in Suffolk support it – it’s our “civic duty” as said by Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care. We must play our part.

But what are we being asked to do?

Clearly, not getting infected with the virus is the main thing. If we keep washing our hands, keep two metres apart, wear a face covering on public transport and in places where it’s difficult to social distance and continue to use common sense, then we can stop the virus spreading.

However, there is a still a chance you may develop symptoms of Covid-19: a high temperature, a new continuous cough, or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste. If you experience any of these, you must self-isolate immediately for seven days and book a test. Your household should also self-isolate for 14 days. In doing so, you will break the chain of infection and reduce the chances of passing the virus on.

If you test positive, one of the NHS Test and Trace team will get in touch with you to explain the next steps, which includes sharing information about your close recent contacts. They will ask for some basic personal details and in most cases you will be given unique login details for the official, secure NHS Test and Trace contact tracing website, to enter more information.

It is a free service and you will NEVER be asked for bank details, payment, social media accounts, passwords, or asked to call a premium rate phone number. These are the actions of scammers and you should stop the conversation immediately.

Nationally it is reported that victims have lost over £4.6m as a result of Covid-19 related scams. This figure is likely to be just the tip of the iceberg, as many will have felt too scared or ashamed to report, and others will be completely unaware that they have been duped.

A real scam conversation

Take a look at a transcript of a real scam conversation which took place just the other week, which Suffolk County Council’s Trading Standards were made aware of. Fortunately, the recipient realised it was a scam, put the phone down and reported it immediately.

Caller: Good morning. I am calling from the NHS Track and Trace Service. According to our system you are likely to have been in close proximity to someone who has tested positive for Covid-19 test.
X: Ok, can you tell me who that person was?

Caller: I am not able to do that. That is confidential information.
X: Right ...So?

Caller: But you do need to be tested within the next 72 hours. So, can I get the best mailing address so that we can send a kit to you?
X: Ok (gives address).

Caller: Thank you. I just need to take a payment card so that we can finalise this and send the kit to you.
X: Sorry, a payment card? I thought this was all free?

Caller: No, I am afraid not. There is a one-off payment of £500 for the kit and the test results. Could you read off the long card number for me, please, when you are ready?
X: No, that's not right. This is part of the NHS so there is no charge.

Caller: I am afraid there is. Can you give me the card number please - this is very important and there are penalties for not complying.
X: puts the phone down.

Rogue traders are still knocking on doors, knowing that people are particularly vulnerable at the moment. Last week, a 94 year old lady in Sudbury was approached at her door by a trader asking if she required any gardening work. She advised him that she needed her lawn cut and was charged £250. The rogue trader drove the lady, who was still in her dressing gown, into town to withdraw the cash. He drove her home again and said he would be back to collect the money. In the meantime, the police had been called and when the rogue trader turned up with two other people, he was intercepted by the police.

There are simple ways to keep yourself and others safe. Never agree to work on your property from a stranger who has knocked on your door. Never give your bank details or passwords over the phone, genuine banks and businesses will not insist on this.

If you’re ever in doubt, shut the door, put the phone down or delete the email. If you do believe a correspondence is genuine, you can get back in touch with that business by using the contact details which you will find their official website, official documentation or your bank card.

Suffolk County Council’s Trading Standards team does a fantastic job to try and keep us all safe, you can support them by signing up to their newsletter at suffolk.gov.uk/jointhefight and following them on social media.

If you’re aware of a scam or rogue trader, you can tell Trading Standards via the National Citizens Advice Consumer helpline on 0808 223 1133.

More information about NHS Test and Trace in Suffolk can be found at suffolk.gov.uk/testing.