Boris Johnson faced questions over the UK’s coronavirus track and trace system at weekly Prime Minister’s Questions in Parliament, with opposition leader Keir Starmer saying the prime minister is “kidding no one” when he says it has been a success.
The UK currently has the highest number of officially recorded cases and deaths in Europe, and Johnson’s government has been under constant scrutiny for its response to the pandemic.
Johnson had promised to have a “world-beating” track and trace system up and running by 1 June, which would include an app, and be capable of tracking 10,000 new cases a day. The app was abandoned after testing on the Isle of Wight.
Highlighting a report commissioned by the government’s office for science, which said test and trace would need to be expanded to cope with demands of winter when there could be a second COVID-19 spike alongside seasonal flu, the Labour leader questioned the current functioning of the system.
“Standing up every week saying it’s a stunning success is kidding no one,” he told Parliament. “It’s obviously not true”.
Johnson insisted the UK’s test and trace system ”is as good as or better than any other system anywhere in the world,” and that 144,000 people have now agreed to self-isolate as a result of being contacted. The prime minister added that the government is implementing the necessary preparations.
He was also pressed on job losses, and the lack of sector-specific support, highlighting the thousands of jobs that have been lost in the aviation sector.
Johnson said “no one should underestimate the scale of the challenge the country faces”, and insisted the government was providing appropriate support.