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NHS Test and Trace boss sent daughter to school with sore throat

Tim Wallace
·2-min read
Harding - ANDREW PARSONS/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
Harding - ANDREW PARSONS/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

The boss of NHS Test and Trace sent her daughter to school with a sore throat because it was not a Covid symptom, and testing her for the virus would have been a waste of time and public resources.

In an online talk hosted by the Confederation of British Industry, Dido Harding said: “My 13-year old daughter got up this morning and said she had a sore throat. I gulped, I took her temperature, I checked she wasn’t coughing, checked she could smell breakfast, and sent her to school.

“Everyone has got to make those judgments every day and that is the way we will then start to manage supply and demand [for tests].”

Watch: What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

Baroness Harding told businesses that NHS patients with clinical needs get priority for testing, as it affects their care, with care home residents and staff next in line, followed by NHS staff.

Next are those with symptoms in areas with major outbreaks. Furthest down the pecking order are those with symptoms in other areas.

Those without symptoms should not be seeking tests, even if they have come into contact with a person who later tests positive for Covid, the former TalkTalk chief executive said.

She added: "All of us can play a role in making sure that we only come forward for a test if we really need it. For us as ordinary folk in ordinary jobs, it is whether or not we have symptoms. If we have got a temperature, if we have got a new persistent cough, or we’ve got a sudden loss of taste and smell, those are the Covid symptoms."

Watch: What are the current UK government guidelines on face coverings within schools?

The peer said testing capacity us rising by about 10pc per week, taking the total up from about 232,000 a day at the start of last week to more than 253,000 by the end of this one.

Her goal is for 500,000 daily tests to be carried out and processed by the end of October.

However, some of that extra capacity is going into processing tests more quickly, rather than into a greater volume.

Research into faster tests is also making progress, Baroness Harding said, with “the Holy Grail being a 15 minute turnaround test that you or I can self-administer”.

She said there were "green shoots” of progress on creating faster tests, and “we should be optimistic that over the course of the next few months, many of these new technologies will break through”.