Test and Trace hospitality check-in data was ‘barely’ used - and thousands weren’t warned of Covid infection risk

Test and Trace hospitality check-in data was ‘barely’ used - and thousands weren’t warned of Covid infection risk (Photo: Shutterstock)

Thousands of people were not warned of infection risk after the Test and Trace system “barely used” pubs and restaurants check-in data, according to a confidential report.

According to Sky News, the report reveals that inaction by the £22 billion service may have led to “thousands of people” not being warned that they were at risk of infection from Covid-19.

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A potential breach of data protection laws

The report revealed that Track and Trace encouraged pubs and restaurants in the UK to contact customers directly when coronavirus data from venues was used - a breach of data protection law, leaving businesses open to potential legal action.

The QR code alert system built into the £40 million NHS England contact tracing app was “not fully” utilised, with the blame put on “capacity issues at a local level” for the failures.

The app alert system was introduced in October, and praised by government officials as an essential step in the fight against Covid-19. It became illegal for hospitality venues to open without an NHS QR code.

‘Staggering level of dysfunctionality’

The findings of the report were condemned by the Labour Party as showing a “staggering level of dysfunctionality” inside Track and Trace.

Shadow Health Secretary Justin Madders said: “It seems thousands of people may have been infected unnecessarily because there wasn't the capacity, joined up-thinking or direction to ensure the systems in place were being used properly."

According to the most recent Test and Trace figures, more than 100 million people have checked in to venues with the app, but analysis by software developer Russ Garrett shows that only 284 alerts have been sent for 276 venues.

A Department for Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “The NHS Covid-19 App is an important tool in our pandemic response.

“It has instructed hundreds of thousands of people to self-isolate since it launched and it has been hugely effective at breaking chains of transmission, preventing an estimated 600,000 cases.”

The report said a new system had been put in place for Test and Trace to “centralise” the process of contacting people who had visited a venue linked to an outbreak, with the plan in place in time for the easing of national restrictions.