LONDON (Reuters) - Three times as many people tested positive for COVID-19 in England in latest weekly figures compared to the end of August, NHS Test and Trace said on Thursday, with more people being referred to the system, though the proportion reached fell.
NHS Test and Trace said 19,278 new people tested positive for Coronavirus (COVID-19) in England between September 10 and September 16.
On Wednesday, Britain reported 6,178 new daily cases of COVID-19, the highest number of infections since May 1, but it has increased testing capacity since then.
Health Minister Matt Hancock said estimates suggested less than 10,000 cases a day at the moment, less than the estimated 100,000 daily cases during the pandemic's peak, even as numbers testing positive have returned to similar levels.
Hancock was speaking in part to publicise the launch of a smartphone app in England and Wales, which lets users trace contacts and has come four months later than initially promised.
Interim Executive Chair of the National Institute for Health Protection, Dido Harding, said that the app would help NHS Test and Trace go "even further" in tracking down COVID-19 cases and outbreaks.
The weekly Test and Trace stats showed that 21,268 people were transferred to the system, up 37% on the week before.
However, 77.7% of those people were reached and asked to provide contacts, down from 83.9% the week before.
There were 77,556 people who were identified as coming into close contact with someone who had tested positive, with 74.7% of those contacts reached, a similar proportion to previous weeks. Where contact information was provided, the proportion of contacts reached was 84.7%.
(Reporting by Alistair Smout; editing by Kate Holton)