COVID-19: FAQs on NHS Track and Trace

Over the last weeks and months, we have made huge progress in keeping the rate of infection (R value) down below one. The new test and trace programme will help us further control the R value which will reduce the spread of infection and ultimately save lives.

A number of residents have already been in touch with questions about the new programme, so I have compiled a list of ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ which I hope you will find useful.


Under the new programme, what do I do if I have symptoms of COVID-19?

  1. Isolate as soon as you first experience symptoms. Medical advice is clear: you must self-isolate for at least 7 days if you live alone, and everyone in your household must self-isolate for 14 days from when you developed symptoms if you live with people.
  2. Test: Order a test immediately at or call 119 if you have no internet access.
  3. Result: If your test is positive, you (and your household if this applies) must complete the remainder of your isolation. If your test is negative, you and other household members no longer need to self-isolate.
  4. Share: If you test positive, the NHS test and trace service will send you a text/email alert of call you with instructions of how to share details of people whom you have had close, recent contact and places you have visited. It is important that you respond as soon as possible so that we can give appropriate advice to those who need it. You will be told to do this online via a secure website or you will be called by one of our contract tracers.


What happens if I am contacted by NHS test and trace because I have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19?

If you are alerted by NHS test and trace that you have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, you will need to log on to the test and trace website. This is usually the easiest way for you and the service to communicate with each other, but if not, a trained call handler will talk you through what you must do.

You will be told to begin self-isolation for 14 days from your last contact with the person who has tested positive. It’s really important to do this even if you don’t feel unwell because, if you have been infected, you could become infectious to others at any point up to 14 days.

If you develop symptoms, please refer to question 1 of this Q and A!


If I have been in close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case but do not have symptoms, do my entire household need to self-isolate with me?

If you do not have symptoms, your entire household does not need to self-isolate with you. They must, however, take extra care to follow the guidance on social distancing and handwashing, and avoid contact with you at home.

If you develop symptoms, please refer to question 1 of this Q and A!


What protections are in place for children under the age of 18?

Under 18s will get a phone call and a parent or guardian will be asked to give permission before the call can continue.


How do I know who I am sharing my data with?

If the NHS test and trace service contacts you, the service will use text messages, email or phone.

All texts or emails will ask you to sign in to the NHS test and trace contact-tracing website.

If NHS test and trace calls you by phone, the service will be using a single phone number: 0300 013 5000.

All information you provide to the NHS test and trace service is held in strict confidence and will only be kept and used in line with the Data Protection Act 2018.

Contact tracers will:

  • call you from 0300 013 5000
  • send you text messages from ‘NHS’
  • ask you to sign in to the NHS test and trace contact-tracing website
  • ask for your full name and date of birth to confirm your identity, and postcode to offer support while self-isolating
  • ask about the coronavirus symptoms you have been experiencing
  • ask you to provide the name, telephone number and/or email address of anyone you have had close contact within the 2 days prior to your symptoms starting
  • ask if anyone you have been in contact with is under 18 or lives outside of England


Contact tracers will never:

  • ask you to dial a premium rate number to speak to them (for example, those starting 09 or 087)
  • ask you to make any form of payment or purchase a product or any kind
  • ask for any details about your bank account
  • ask for your social media identities or log in details, or those of your contacts
  • ask you for any passwords or PINs, or ask you to set up any passwords or PINs over the phone
  • disclose any of your personal or medical information to your contacts
  • provide medical advice on the treatment of any potential coronavirus symptoms
  • ask you to download any software to your PC or ask you to hand over control of your PC, smartphone or tablet to anyone else
  • ask you to access any website that does not belong to the government or NHS


How will my data be used?

Based on the information you provide, NHS track and trace will assess whether they need to alert your contacts and ask them to self-isolate.

They may also refer the case to local public health experts if it is complex, for example, if you work in or have recently visited a healthcare setting (including care homes), a prison or a school for children with special needs.

Local public health experts are Public Health England staff and teams employed by your local authority who work together with all parts of the local community to prevent or respond to local outbreaks.


What will NHS test and trace ask me if I test positive?

NHS Tack and Trace will ask you:

  • if you have family members or other household members living with you. In line with the medical advice they must remain in self-isolation for the rest of the 14-day period from when your symptoms began
  • if you have had any close contact with anyone other than members of your household. We are interested in in the 48 hours before you developed symptoms and the time since you developed symptoms. Close contact means:
  • having face-to-face contact with someone (less than 1 metre away)
  • spending more than 15 minutes within 2 metres of someone
  • travelling in a car or other small vehicle with someone (even on a short journey) or close to them on a plane
  • if you work in – or have recently visited – a setting with other people (for example, a GP surgery, a school or a workplace)

NHS track and trace will also ask you to provide, where possible, the names and contact details (for example, email address, telephone number) for the people you have had close contact with. As with your own details these will be held in strict confidence and will be kept and used only in line with data protection laws.


Where does the NHS Coronavirus App fit into the track and trace programme?

We are currently developing our NHS coronavirus app, which is being trialled on the Isle of Wight. When rolled out nationally this app will supplement the other forms of contact tracing.