Boris Johnson admits 'frustrations' over Test and Trace after LBC question

22 October 2020, 18:51 | Updated: 22 October 2020, 19:32

By Asher McShane

Boris Johnson admitted frustrations over the £12bn Test and Trace system today following a question raised by LBC after an address to the nation alongside the Chancellor.

LBC Westminster Correspondent Ben Kentish asked the Prime Minister about recent Test and Trace figures which show only one in seven people were getting a Covid-19 test result in 24 hours - the lowest since the system began.

The Prime Minister responded: "I share people's frustrations and I understand totally why we do need to see faster turnaround times and we need to improve it.

"We need to make sure that people who do get a positive test self-isolate - that's absolutely crucial if this thing is going to work in the way that it can."

Read more: Covid-19 hospital admissions 'towards 1,000 people a day', Sir Patrick Vallance says

The Prime Minister pledged that, by the end of June, the results of all in-person tests would be back within 24 hours.

He told the House of Commons on June 3 that he would get "all tests turned around within 24 hours by the end of June, except for difficulties with postal tests or insuperable problems like that".

Boris Johnson admitted frustrations over the test and trace system
Boris Johnson admitted frustrations over the test and trace system. Picture: PA

New weekly figures show 59.6% of contacts were reached by Test and Trace callers - also the lowest since the system launched - and far below the 80% experts say is required for it to have a significant impact on the infection rate.

Critics claim the Government's handling of the system has led to further restrictions and billions in financial support being necessary and that much of it could have been avoided if Test and Trace was functioning properly.

Pressed over new funding announced on Thursday, Boris Johnson denied that businesses the North had been neglected over the summer months.

Read more: Rishi Sunak unveils billions of pounds of support for businesses in Tier 2 areas

The Prime Minister said: "The issue is really one of basic fairness between various parts of the country that are having to experience regional restrictions, that's what we were trying to achieve in the last 10 days.

"What we are doing now is bringing forward measures that are designed to help businesses that can't trade as they normally would and who are experiencing a fall in income.

"And we are doing it across the whole country, it's backdated to August."

He was joined by Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance, who warned that around 1,000 people were now being admitted to hospital with Covid-19 in the UK each day.

He added that intensive care beds were filling up across the country as infections rise and more people are admitted.

But he sounded a note of optimism that the R number was heading back towards one, with Boris Johnson saying "our collective action is working".

Read more: Stoke-on-Trent, Coventry and Slough to enter Tier 2 restrictions

Sir Patrick stressed the need, however, to reduce the number of infections to avoid placing too much pressure on the NHS, which would in turn affect treatment for other illnesses such as cancer.