PM insists Test and Trace system ‘world-beating’

Written by Eleanor Langford on 10 August 2020 in News
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Labour supports possible creation of local schemes

Credit: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire/PA Images

Prime minister Boris Johnson has defended his claim that the NHS Test and Trace system was “world-beating” after the latest stats showed the scheme was struggling to trace contacts. 

According to Government statistics released on Thursday, only 72.4% of contacts of those infected with Covid-19 were reached last week, down from 76.2% the week before.

When asked, during a visit last week to Warrington, if the NHS contact tracing system was really “world-beating”, Johnson said: “If you look at what we're doing, actually, I think it certainly is and it certainly does fit that description of world-beating. I think I'm right in saying that we're now testing more per head of population than virtually any other country in Europe, certainly, in America they’re testing a huge number of people. And that test and trace system is absolutely crucial for our ability to fight the disease, and it is working."


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The prime minister, who was speaking to Sky News, added: “If you look at what we're doing with some of the other local social distancing measures that we're bringing back in, that's entirely driven by our ability to detect cases, through local test and trace, working with local authorities and taking the right local measures.”

But Labour said it was “deeply concerning” many people who had been in contact with individuals who had tested positive for coronavirus were not being reached.

Shadow health minister Justin Madders said: “We now need a plan of action from ministers that sets out what they are doing to address these huge holes in the contact tracing system. If this means supporting local areas to establish their own local contact tracing systems and ending the failed contract with Serco – as Labour has been calling for, for some time – then ministers must get on and implement this without delay. We urgently need to get test and trace back on track.”

Johnson said that Britain’s economic recovery will rely on people having the “confidence” to go back to work.

And he added that it was “very important” to get children back to school to help support workers and boost the economy. 

Johnson insisted that there were “real signs of strength in the UK economy".

“Unquestionably it will require people to have the confidence to go back to work in a Covid-secure way,” he said. "It's also very, very important that we get all the schools back in September, on September 1 get all the pupils back into their schools. That will be also very, very important for getting our economy overall moving again."

 

About the author

Eleanor Langford is a reporter for PublicTechnology sister publication PoliticsHome, where this story first appeared. She tweets as @eleanormia.

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