Test and trace isn’t working. I know from bitter experience | Letter

Like Novak Djokovic, I tested positive for Covid-19 in December (Novak Djokovic blames agent for Australian paperwork ‘mistake’ and admits not isolating after positive Covid result, 12 January). Unlike him I was fully immunised and away from home (in a New York hotel). To comply with US regulations, my wife and I isolated for 10 days over Christmas and New Year. In compliance with UK regulations, we took negative rapid antigen tests before flying home and day 2 PCR tests on our return: mine was positive.

Subsequently, I have spoken to five test-and-trace agents (a sixth hung up on my wife) and have been emailed and messaged repeatedly to complete the online contact-tracing form.

Despite persisting PCR positivity after recovery being well recognised, apparently there is no way to register this “on the system”. One agent told me to contest the result on 119, but I could not find out how; that is unsurprising as the call-directing algorithm has at least five layers and up to six choices at each layer, giving hundreds of possible choice combinations. The next agent I reached denied that an option to contest exists.

As regards the contact form, the section asking where you have been in the previous five days accepts only UK addresses, making it impossible for me to complete truthfully. A final twist is that the complaints form (which does not allow “special characters” such as colons, inverted commas and question marks) promises a reply within 25 working days. One consolation is that, unlike Mr Djokovic, as a UK citizen I am not threatened with deportation.

This might all have been a bit of a joke if test and trace hadn’t cost the exchequer £37bn.
Dr David Fine
Bridford, Devon


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