Boris Johnson defends covid test system at PMQs

9 September 2020, 12:49 | Updated: 9 September 2020, 12:57

By Asher McShane

The Prime Minister defended the country's coronavirus testing system today at PMQs when challenged by Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer.

Sir Keir said the issue of people being sent all over the country for tests "can't be brushed off" adding "it's got a lot worse in the last week or two and everyone in this house knows it."

"This is a very serious issue, the government line on this seems to be changing all the time."

Boris Johnson and Sir Keir Starmer clashed at PMQs on the issue of tests
Boris Johnson and Sir Keir Starmer clashed at PMQs on the issue of tests. Picture: PA

He cited the apology issued by the Director of testing of NHS Test and Trace Sarah-Jane Marsh who wrote: "Can I please offer my heartfelt apologies to anyone who cannot get a COVID test at present.

Read More: Hancock warns of surge in people with no symptoms seeking covid-19 tests

"All of our testing sites have capacity, which is why they don’t look overcrowded, its our laboratory processing that is the critical pinch-point. We are doing all we can to expand quickly."

Sir Keir also criticised Matt Hancock for "appearing to blame the public" for the testing situation after Mr Hancock said that people with no symptoms trying to get tests were causing delays in the testing process.

He asked the Prime Minister to clarify whether the issue was a problem in the labs or whether it "was the public's fault."

Boris Johnson replied: "Demand is at an unprecedented high. This country has done more tests, 17.6m, than any country in Europe.

"That is thanks to the efforts of NHS test and trace.

"They are in my view doing an absolutely heroic job. This is an organisation that is working heroically to contain the spread of this disease and it requires the pubic to trust this organisation and to participate."

He called for Sir Keir Starmer to withdraw a remark he made yesterday saying the organisation was "on the verge of collapse."