THE government’s track and trace programme has begun its rollout across Cumbria.

The system - involving an app - aims to cut off routes of transmission for coronavirus (Covid-19) by monitoring forms of significant physical contact. This way, it is thought a second peak of infection could be prevented.

NHS Test and Trace launched in England yesterday with the help of 25,000 contact tracers.

However, it was reported yesterday that the head of the test and trace programme had told MPs the system would not be fully operational until the end of June.

Delays to the development of the system’s accompanying app means it is not likely to launch for several more weeks.

Colin Cox, Cumbria’s director of public heath, said: “The national tracking system went live today for people who are symptomatic - they can now call to organise getting tested. I’m afraid we haven’t had any sight of the numbers or any data on this yet.

“The majority of contact tracing will be old-fashioned telephoning people and having a conversation about who they’ve been in contact with. This is as true in Cumbria as it is in the rest of the country.

“This is something being rolled out at a national level very quickly on a scale never seen before and I’m sure there will be teething problems with it. But we’ve been preparing for this in Cumbria for weeks now to try and mitigate that.

“I think we need to cut a little slack for those that have been tasked with realising this programme. This has been very difficult to organise. And I’m delighted it’s in place, as it’s essential to the response to Covid.”

Responding to concerns there may be problems in the rollout of the programme across Cumbria, Barrow MP Simon Fell attempted to offer reassurances.

He said: “I don’t think there will be [such problems].

"This is a system that is going to roll out across the UK and across all demographics. There are physical track and tracers as well as affordances in place locally to compensate for people who are unable to sign up to the app for whatever reason.

“All this data - whether testing or track and trace - will go back to try and inform that response. This should hopefully let people get back to their normal lives as much as possible.

“People have done an incredible job at sticking to the rules as laid out by the government.

“Parliament goes back next week and as I understand it the there are powers to enforce adoption of track and trace programme. But I hope it doesn’t have to [come to that].”

Mr Fell also said he ‘wasn’t aware’ of any concerns or difficulties so far in Cumbria.