FEWER than two-thirds of close contacts of people with coronavirus in Oxfordshire are being reached through the test and trace regime, figures suggest.

The Government has faced mounting pressure over failings in the NHS Test and Trace system, which has recently seen up to four times the number of people trying to book a test as the number of tests available.

It comes amid rapidly rising case numbers, which could result in 50,000 new cases every day by mid-October unless the current rate of infection is curbed, according to the Government’s chief scientific advisor.

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Data from the Department for Health and Social care shows 870 people who tested positive for Covid-19 in Oxfordshire were transferred to the Test and Trace service between May 28 and September 9.

Coronavirus patients reached by the service are urged to give details for anyone they were in close contact with in the 48 hours before their symptoms started, the NHS says.

A further 2,078 close contacts were identified in this way in Oxfordshire – also referred to as ‘non-complex’ cases, meaning they could be dealt with through a call centre or online.

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But the figures reveal just 61per cent of those were reached by contact tracers over the period, meaning 804 people did not acknowledge they also needed to self-isolate.

The DHSC says a close contact is not reached when there is no response to text, email or call reminders, or when their communication details were not available.

Under new rules, from September 28 people in England will legally have to self-isolate for 14 days if they test positive for coronavirus, or they are instructed to do by NHS Test and Trace.

Fines for non-compliance will start at £1,000, rising to £10,000 for repeat offenders, while people on benefits will be eligible for a one-off support payment of £500 if they face a loss of earnings as a result of having to quarantine.