Working in the Dark: Not Tracking Positive Covid Cases Is Reckless

Image by Randall Munroe

This morning I received a message from a colleague sharing they had tested positive and were feeling very poorly. In the last couple of months, I heard from family members, friends and colleagues and students who have tested positive too, sometimes for the second time (in one instance, for the third time).

“Following Government guidance” has become an excuse for organisations of all types to abdicate their duty of care for their stakeholders. Workplaces have stopped requiring staff to report positive test results, and have closed all previously existing data collection mechanisms to monitor infection rates in their communities. NHS Test and Trace (NHST&T) was set up with a budget of £22 billion [1], and all that effort and investment has been practically dismantled. Case-tracking can help workplaces and communities assess any increase in risk, and plan accordingly. Without it it’s all hearsay, fostering uncertainty. Without it we are in the dark: there could already be an outbreak and we’d still be planning gatherings.

It’s well documented that the Covid waves “continue to come” [2] but we seem to have given up, as world, nation, country and society, in trying to do anything to mitigate them. Just as many of us go back to indoor in-person activities, the situation in Europe and the United States is not looking any better [3]. Governments may be unwilling to do more to protect the population, but organisations, employers and service providers should have a duty of care for their members, staff and customers.

It is unfortunate that any public expression of concern about Covid safety is nowadays so rare that it is increasingly considered paranoia. However, the scientific consensus is clear on incidence of reinfection, waning vaccine immunity, and risk of Long Covid.

“COVID-19 survivors at 2 years had more problems with fatigue, muscle weakness, sleep difficulties, dizziness, headache, and myalgia than COVID-19 survivors at 1 year. There is increasing evidence for brain-related injuries in patients with COVID-19. Even mild COVID-19 is linked to brain damage, which might provide insight into neurological or cognitive symptoms such as difficulty concentrating, trouble sleeping, memory loss, or confusion associated with long COVID.” [4]

Does this sound like something you’d like to experience? (Colleagues and friends already are).

Our lack of means to document cases in our professional communities puts us all at risk. Risk of death has fortunately been significantly reduced for most (but not all). However, risk of death is not the only kind of risk we should try to mitigate.

In the current landscape [5], who needs an even more chronically fatigued workforce?

[1] UK Parliament. Public Accounts Committee (2021). “Unimaginable” cost of Test & Trace failed to deliver central promise of averting another lockdown (10 March 2021).

[2] Pagel, Christina (2022). The covid waves continue to come, BMJ 2022; 377 doi: (Published 17 June 2022)


[4] Yang Chengliang et al (2022) A glimpse into long COVID and symptoms. The Lancet. June 10, 2022 DOI:

[5] University and College Union (2022) Workload survey 2021. Data report. June 2022. [PDF]