PM fails to answer questions about how government plans to stop people from removing app to avoid self-isolation
Boris Johnson has swerved growing concern over how the government is going to prevent people deleting the NHS Test and Trace App to avoid having to self-isolate when Covid infections surge this summer.
During prime minister’s questions this week, Labour leader Keir Starmer accused Johnson of trying to “wish away the practical problems that 100,000 infections a day are going to cause” in an exchange dominated by the government’s plan to remove almost all coronavirus restrictions on 19 July.
Johnson would not say how the government planned to stop people deleting the NHS Covid-19 contact-tracing app amid warnings that people were already removing it from their phones to avoid being “pinged” to self-isolate.
“There are already too many stories of people deleting the NHS app. He must have seen the stories. And they are doing it because they can see what’s coming down the track,” Starmer said. “Of course we don’t support that, but under his plan it’s entirely predictable”.
Johnson thanked people for self-isolating when notified by the NHS app and accused of Labour of not having a clear position on whether the country should go ahead with the July 19 unlocking.
He gave no indication of how the government planned to discourage people from deleting the app.
Sajid Javid, the health secretary, announced on Tuesday that from 16 August, fully vaccinated people will no longer have to self-isolate when they come into contact with people who have tested positive for the illness.
However, coronavirus cases are expected to surge into the hundreds of thousands between now and then, and most young people will not be fully vaccinated until September.
This has led to warnings that the country is heading for a summer of chaos, with millions of people being notified by the NHS app that they need to self-isolate.
Starmer said it would lead to “huge disruption to families and businesses just as the summer holidays begin,” forcing people to cancel holidays and leave employers without staff.
The prime minister refused to say how many people the government expected to be asked to self-isolate this summer, instead insisting the plan to move away from the self-isolation policy next month as the “prudent approach”.