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Public Health Bulletin

Testing the City and Hackney population for coronavirus

18 September 2020, No. 301

Introduction

The government’s national NHS Test and Trace programme was launched on 28 May 2020. This system helps to contain and control COVID-19 by providing advice to people who have been diagnosed with COVID-19, and identifying any close recent contacts so they can be alerted and advised to self-isolate. 

However, national call centres struggled to reach the desired proportion of cases. Therefore, on 10 August, the government announced a partnership with local authorities; if the dedicated national team could not make contact with a resident within 24 hours, local authorities could use the data provided by NHS Test and Trace to attempt a follow up.

Hackney and the City of London’s local contact tracing programme 

Hackney and the City of London’s local contact tracing programme was launched on 22 September. This was designed as a joint programme between Hackney’s Customer Service Centre and the City of London’s Environmental Health Officers which would be overseen by the City and Hackney Public Health Team. The local contact tracing programme aims to reach around 30% of individuals who test positive for Covid-19 in Hackney and the City of London that cannot be reached by the national contact tracing team.  

Between 22 September and 20 October, 40% (196 cases) of the 493 cases transferred to Hackney’s local contact tracing system had been reached by the local contact tracing teams (weekly success rate ranging from 30% to 66%). Hackney and the City of London’s contact tracing effort has increased the percent of COVID-19 cases that were successfully contacted or excluded from contact tracing between 22 September and 20 October from 71% (1,195 cases), to 82% (1,391 cases).

Demographic and geographic patterns have emerged within these transferred populations. Data was available to analyse for 466 of the 493 cases transferred to Hackney’s local contact tracing programme between 22 September and 20 October: 

Age of cases transferred to Hackney’s local contact tracing system 

When excluding data on cases for which no date of birth was available (five cases), the highest proportion of cases were recorded among 20 to 29 year olds at 28% (127 cases), followed by 30 to 39 year olds at 24% (110 cases), and 10 to 19 year olds at 16% (75 cases). 

If we compare this to the proportion of COVID-19 cases that were registered among these population ages between 22 September and 20 October, a smaller proportion of cases were transferred to local contact tracing teams than were registered overall. For example, while 28% of the cases transferred to the local contact tracing system were among 20 to 29 year olds, 29% of all COVID-19 cases were recorded among 20 to 29 year olds. This suggests the dedicated national team had a higher success rate contacting 10 to 39 year olds than other ages. 


Figure 1. COVID-19 cases transferred to Hackney’s* local contact tracing system by age group, 22 September to 20 October 2020.

Data source: Local Contact Tracing Data, 22 September to 20 October 2020, Hackney. *Analysis for the City of London was not included as sample sizes were too small

Sex of cases transferred to Hackney’s local contact tracing system 

Information on sex was only available for 27 of the 466 (6%) COVID-19 cases transferred to Hackney’s local contact tracing programme between 22 September and 20 October for which data was available to analyse. However, by manually determining sex based on first name, a crude measure could be used as a rough guide. 

Based on this crude measure, roughly 276 cases (59%) were recorded among males and 190 cases (41%) were recorded among females. In contrast, 50% of COVID-19 cases that were uploaded to the NHS Test and Trace system between 22 September and 20 October were diagnosed among males. This suggests that the NHS Test and Trace system is seeing a lower success rate among males than females.  
Males and females follow the same profile of cases by age, again with the highest number of cases being recorded among 20 to 29 year olds. 

Geography of cases transferred to Hackney’s local contact tracing system

The North of Hackney has seen the highest number of cases transferred to Hackney’s contact tracing system. Springfield, Cazenove, and Stamford Hill West accounted for the majority of cases transferred to the internal system between 22 September and 20 October at 52% (243 cases): 

  • Springfield - 114 cases (24%)
  • Cazenove - 78 cases (17%) 
  • Stamford Hill West - 51 cases (12%)

In the same time frame, these three boroughs accounted for 42% of COVID-19 cases, suggesting that the residents living in these wards are harder to reach compared with other areas of Hackney.

Figure 2. COVID-19 cases transferred to Hackney’s* local contact tracing system by ward, 22 September to 20 October 2020

                       

Data source: NHS Local Contact Tracing Data, 22 September to 20 October 2020, Hackney. *Analysis for the City of London was not included as sample sizes were too small

By taking a local approach to the contact tracing system and understanding the populations represented, Hackney and the City of London’s joint programme can tailor responses to reach elusive populations and explore alternative approaches to reach them - for example through door knocking. 
 

Copyright © 2020 City & Hackney Public Health Team, All rights reserved.


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