THE new Test, Trace and Isolate (TTI) system was launched in England at 9am on May 28.

Not all of its functions are yet up and running and the app is still to be launched – but we are making progress.

Its success will depend on of all of us taking immediate action if we become contacts of a confirmed case of Covid-19. So how do we become a ‘contact’ and what is expected of us if we are one? Most importantly, how can we avoid becoming a contact?

A ‘contact’ in the new TTI system is a person who has been close to someone who has tested positive for Covid-19 anytime from two days before that person was symptomatic and to up to seven days after, as this is when they will be infectious to others.

A contact will be a person who has been within two metres of someone who has tested positive for Covid-19 for more than 15 minutes, but it can also be someone who has spent time in the same household of a person who has tested positive for Covid-19, or has been a sexual partner.

It can be a person who has had face-to-face contact within one metre of someone who has tested positive for Covid-19. This can include being coughed on, having a face-to-face conversation within one metre, having skin-to-skin physical contact, or even being in contact within one metre for one minute or longer without face-to-face contact.

It can also include a person who has travelled in a small vehicle with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19 or in a large vehicle or plane near someone who has tested positive. Where an interaction between two people has taken place through a Perspex (or equivalent) screen, this would not in itself be considered sufficient risk to be a ‘contact’.

If any of us do end up being a contact, medical advice is clear: contacts of a person who has tested positive for coronavirus (Covid-19) must self-isolate at home because they are at risk of developing symptoms themselves in the next 14 days and could spread the virus to others before the symptoms begin.

Our capacity to identify all ‘contacts’ (e.g. on public transport) will only become possible when we have the app fully functional and widely adopted.

Schools, workplaces or businesses not maintaining these social distancing rules will risk losing whole staff groups at once for two weeks. All of us will need to watch out for anyone standing less than a metre near to us for a minute or longer.

If we want to avoid being a contact, we are all going to need to develop both our own social distancing skills and our ability to remind others of theirs – kindly, gently but firmly. A good sense of humour will also help!