HEALTH Secretary Matt Hancock said as many as 80 per cent of people who tested positive for coronavirus in England had not displayed any symptoms.
Mr Hancock was speaking as it emerged the new NHS test and trace programme was unable to track down thousands of people who had tested positive for Covid-19.
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The Office for National Statistics has been carrying out a survey using swab testing to determine how many people from across the country at any one time are infected with Covid-19.
In the vast majority of cases, said Matt Hancock, those who had tested positive had not been presenting any symptoms.
He told the daily Downing Street briefing: “The big-picture answer is that yes there are some people who don’t have symptoms but do have the virus.
“And in fact, in the ONS study we find that around 70-80 per cent of people who test positive don’t have symptoms.
“That is quite a significant finding and one of the important things about this disease, in the same way that asymptomatic transmission is one of the things that makes controlling this disease really hard and is novel for any coronavirus, and is one of the things that makes it so difficult.”
Mr Hancock said the NHS test and trace scheme was part of the solution as isolating those who test positive for the virus would “break the chain of transmission”, particularly when they would not have otherwise known they were carrying the disease.
The briefing was also told a third of Covid-infected Brits could not be traced in the NHS Test and Trace programme.
Nearly 27,000 people were ordered to self-quarantine during the first week of the contact tracing scheme, new NHS stats reveal.
The new army of tracers attempted to reach 8,117 people who tested positive for the killer disease.
Of those 5,407 (67 per cent) were traced and contacted, while 2,710 (33 per cent) were not reached, or failed to share information about their contacts.
In total, from May 28 to June 3, 31,794 contacts were identified and, of these 26,985 were reached and told to self-isolate – 85 per cent of contacts.
But, of the remaining 15 per cent, some were not contacted, others said they were already taking action and some simply refused to comply.
Test and Trace chief, Baroness Dido Harding, admitted today that improvements are needed, but said the system was “fit for purpose”.
“We are not at the gold standard yet that we want to be, of isolating all contacts within 48 hours of someone requesting a test,” she said.
“But you can absolutely see the path of how we are going to get there.”
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