Test, Trace and Protect (TTP) will continue in Wales until at least next March, the Government has announced.

The service, which has helped to reduce the spread of coronavirus by locating and isolating positive and suspected cases, will be extended with a further injection of funding worth £32 million.

Latest figures show that almost a year after TTP was launched in Wales, contact tracers have reached 99.7 per cent of the positive cases that were eligible for follow up.

They also successfully contacted almost 95 per cent of the close contacts that were eligible for follow up.

In Wales, TTP has been run by local authorities. Research suggests that TTP reduced the R number from 1.7 to 1.3 when Covid transmission was high before the firebreak last year.

With transmission rates now much lower, contact tracers and advisers are undertaking enhanced contact tracing to tackle variants of concern.

Announcing the extension, health minister Eluned Morgan said: “Test, Trace, Protect has been extremely effective at supporting people who have tested positive and their contacts to isolate and providing advice, guidance and support.

“A great deal of hard work across NHS Wales, local authorities, the voluntary sector and partner organisations has created a highly-effective programme to help us keep Wales safe. Everyone involved can be extremely proud of their efforts.

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“I want to thank everyone involved, including Public Health Wales and Digital Health Care Wales. In particular I want to thank the contact tracers and those providing Protect services who have provided much-needed support to people at an extremely difficult time in their lives.

“They have done much more than their title suggests – they have identified vulnerable people and got them extra support, whether that be someone to chat to, a food parcel, or linking in with vital mental health services.

“As we seek to stop the spread of new variants of concern, experienced contact tracers are key to doing this effectively and we are continuing to invest in this work.”

The extension to TTP is the first evidence that the Government is continuing to think long term about the pandemic and tackling the virus, suggesting the 'new normal' may be around for a little while longer.

Will people continue to comply with measures moving forward?

According to the latest research, compliance with Covid measures and restrictions has been declining over the last couple of months both in Wales and the wider UK.

Full compliance - where people are being asked whether they are strictly following all the rules - is has dropped from around 60 per cent in February, to 40 per cent in the latest latest data released.

However, majority compliance - where people believe they are following most of the rules - is still high at around 80 to 90 per cent.

Swansea University’s Dr Simon Williams, who has studied public attitudes throughout the pandemic, told The National there is a correlation between people being less worried about the virus over the past few months and the number of people becoming less fully compliant with the rules.

However, he believes compliance with measures such as TTP will continue to be high providing it is communicated effectively by the Government.

“Test Trace and Protect is the big thing in terms of continuing to move in the same direction, and not having to go back into restrictions and lockdowns,” Dr Williams said.

“On the whole, people have adopted the new normal and measures such as wearing a mask in hospitality settings. I suspect the majority will continue to support that going forward.

“Around three quarters of the Welsh public feel like masks are going to be a part of life for at least the next twelve months, and one of the big facilitators behind people getting vaccinated is people wanting to get back to normal.

“For many people, wearing masks or checking in when you go for a meal are second order issues compared to being able to see family in their homes or hugging their mates.”

The Government’s next Covid review is due on Friday (June 4).

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