This is an HTML version of an attachment to the Freedom of Information request 'Number of people who test positive for c19'.


 
 
 
Public Accountability Unit 
  T  020 8327 6920 
Wellington House 
 
133-155 Waterloo Road 
 
London SE1 8UG 
www.gov.uk/phe  
 
By email 
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx.xxx  
 
Our ref: 08/12/tr/2102 
07 January 2021 
Dear Jane Westover, 
  
 
Re: COVID testing and isolation efficacy 
 
Thank you for your request received on 08 December 2021 addressed to Public 
Health England (PHE). In accordance with Section 1(1)(a) of the Freedom of 
Information Act 2000 (the Act), I can confirm that Public Health England (PHE) does 
hold some of the information you have specified. I have responded to your requests 
in the order raised:- 
 
Could you please give me the total number of people who have tested positive 
for corona virus, have self-isolated, and never become ill.   
 
PHE can confirm that it does not hold the information you have specified. 
If an individual tests positive and, 

They have symptoms, they must self-isolate for 10 days from when the 
symptoms started 

They have not had symptoms, they must self-isolate for 10 days from when 
they had the test. If they get symptoms whilst they are self-isolating the 10 days 
restarts from when the symptoms started. 
PHE do not hold information about whether or not all of the individuals who test 
positive also have symptoms. 
Under Section 16 of the Act, public authorities have a duty to provide advice and 
assistance. Accordingly, you may find the following link to be helpful which gives the 
number of people who have tested positive for COVID-19 - 
https://coronavirus.data.gov.uk/details/cases 
Furthermore, self-isolation guidance can be found at the following link - 
https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/self-isolation-and-treatment/how-
long-to-self-isolate/ 
 
Are these people able to claim any compensation for being wrongly diagnosed 
and having their life disrupted? 
 
PHE can confirm that individuals may be eligible for a single payment of £500 if they 
need to self-isolate because of COVID-19 and cannot work from home.  Details of 
this and other financial support available for people impacted by Coronavirus can be 
 
 

found at the following link - https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus/worker-support?priority-
taxon=774cee22-d896-44c1-a611-e3109cce8eae 
 
 
No diagnostic test is 100% accurate, false positives and false negatives can occur 
depending on a number of factors not directly related to the test performance.  PHE 
is confident in the performance of its PCR tests which are evaluated for accuracy 
and reliability prior to being approved for diagnostic use. Once in use, the 
performance of the test is continually monitored and reviewed for technical quality 
and performance.  PHE is very aware of the risk of false positives where prevalence 
is low in the population being tested and is working with all Pillar 1 and Pillar 2 labs 
to put in place measures to reduce that risk including ensuring that appropriate CT 
values are being used and that where appropriate samples are re-tested to ensure 
results are as accurate as possible. Further information can be found through the 
following link - https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/sars-cov-2-rna-testing-
assurance-of-positive-results-during-periods-of-low-prevalence 
Daily reported case numbers exclude results that have been identified as false.  
 
And [may I have] the number of people who have been tested in the 
community, had no symptoms, but tested positive and later (within 7 days) had 
to seek medical assistance. 
 
PHE can confirm that it does not hold the information you have specified. 
 
The government’s mass testing programme includes four pillars: 

Pillar 1: NHS and PHE Testing – includes virus testing in Public Health 
England (PHE) labs and NHS hospitals for those with a clinical need, and health and 
care workers; 

Pillar 2: UK Government testing programme – includes virus testing for the 
wider population, as set out in government guidance.  

Pillar 3: Antibody testing – antibody serology testing to show if people have 
antibodies from having had COVID-19. 

Pillar 4: Surveillance testing – virus testing and antibody serology testing for 
national surveillance.  
 
The Department of Health and Social Care are responsible for Pillar 2 testing and 
may be able to assist with this question. Under section 16 of the FOI Act, public 
authorities have a duty to provide advice and assistance. Accordingly, you may wish 
to contact DHSC who may be able to assist further: https://contactus.dhsc.gov.uk/  
 
Furthermore, the number of patients admitted to hospital who have tested positive 
for COVID-19 in the 14 days prior to admission, and those who tested positive in 
hospital after admission, can be found at the following link. 
https://coronavirus.data.gov.uk/details/healthcare 
 
Could you show me evidence that the government has sought expert advice in 
dealing with COVID-19.  
 
PHE can confirm that it does not hold the information you have specified. 
 


Under Section 16 of the FOI Act, public authorities have a duty to provide advice and 
assistance. Accordingly, you may wish to contact DHSC who may be able to assist 
further: https://contactus.dhsc.gov.uk/. Furthermore, you may find the following study 
from The Lancet to be helpful, which explains the efficacy of social distancing and 
face masks: 
https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)31142-9/fulltext  
 
If you have any queries regarding the information that has been supplied to you, 
please refer your query to me in writing in the first instance. If you remain dissatisfied 
and would like to request an internal review, then please contact us at the address 
above or by emailing xxx@xxx.xxx.xx.  
 
Please note that you have the right to an independent review by the Information 
Commissioner’s Office if a complaint cannot be resolved through the PHE 
complaints procedure. The Information Commissioner’s Office can be contacted by 
calling the ICO’s helpline on 0303 123 1113, visiting the ICO’s website at 
www.ico.org.uk or writing to the ICO at Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, 
Cheshire, SK9 5AF. 
 
Yours sincerely  
FOI Team