The trade union representing doctors in Cumbria has warned of the risk of the county's new "test, track and trace" system being "overwhelmed" without "adequate support" from the Government.

The British Medical Association, which represents the interests of doctors across the UK, has urged the Government to commit "significant" resources to the new test, trace and trace system, which has launched today in England.

This will involve identifying new Covid-19 cases with rigorous testing, determining who may have been put at risk of infection by tracing the contact anyone who tests positive has had, then ensuring these individuals self-isolate to prevent a further spread of the infection.

BMA public health medicine committee member and former chairwoman Dr Penelope Toff said that a robust test, trace and trace system was "vital" for preventing a second wave of infection, and for ensuring that the country can "safely ease out of lockdown."

“What will be absolutely crucial is that the Government can implement this effectively with all the components in place, so it can run at capacity," she said.

"Success will not just hinge on the availability of testing and delivering test results quickly but on rapid identification of contacts and support to enable them to self-isolate."

However Dr Toff said making sure this system was robust enough to be effective is going to require "significant resources" to be committed by the Government.

“There is a very real concern that as funding has only now been made available at local level, and as much of the local contact tracing will need to be done in person, there is the potential for some of these systems to become overwhelmed with the sudden surge in demand," she said.

"It is vital that adequate support is on hand, to enable all directors of public health and Public Health England consultants leading these local systems, to deliver this effectively.

“Establishing local test, track and trace is a step in the right direction but will require significant resources, monitoring and vigilance to ensure that it is working effectively across the country.”

Dr Toff stressed that "good communication with the public" is also going to be vital from the Government to ensure the success of the strategy.

“The safety of the public and key workers is paramount and given the limits of the test itself, self-isolation of those with symptoms and their contacts is even more vital. This will require good communication with the public at a national level."