UK 'will have 25,000 coronavirus contact trackers by June 1' says Boris Johnson

20 May 2020, 15:51

By Megan White

Boris Johnson has announced that the UK will have 25,000 coronavirus contact trackers by June 1 in a bid to trace Covid-19 cases.

The Prime Minister said the Government is making "fast progress" in testing and tracing coronavirus cases and has already recruited 24,000 trackers.

At PMQs, Mr Johnson said he was "confident" that the UK will have a test-and-trace operation which will allow the country to make "progress".

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: "The number of Covid-19 deaths in Germany stands at around 8,000, in South Korea it is under 300, in contrast, the United Kingdom, despite two million tests having been carried out - there has been no effective tracing in place since March 12 when tracing was abandoned.

"That is nearly 10 weeks in a critical period without effective tracing. That is a huge hole in our defences, isn't it Prime Minister?"

But Mr Johnson said he is "confident" that the UK will have a test-and-trace operation which will allow the country to make "progress".

"And I can tell him also that by June 1, already we have recruited 24,000 trackers and by June 1 we will have 25,000.

"They will be capable of tracking the contacts of 10,000 new cases a day.

"And to understand the importance of that statistic, I should just remind him that today the new cases stand at 2,400.

"So we're making fast progress in testing and tracing and I have great confidence that by June 1 we will have a system that will enable us, that will help us very greatly to defeat this disease and move the country forward."

Sir Keir replied: "This is the last PMQs for two weeks, can the Prime Minister indicate that an effective test, trace and isolate system will be in place by June 1, Monday week?"

Mr Johnson replied: "What he heard is that we have growing confidence that we will have a test, track and trace operation that will be world-beating and yes, it will be in place, it will be in place by June 1."

He added that "there will be 25,000 trackers, they will be able to cope with 10,000 new cases a day".

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Labour said a track-and-trace system should be in place before schools return.

A spokesman for party leader Sir Keir Starmer told reporters during a telephone briefing: "What we are calling for is for the Government to try and reach a consensus with teachers' and parents' organisations to drive a way through and find a way to respond to those concerns with practical proposals within the next couple of weeks."

Asked what sort of practical proposals it was looking for, the spokesman added: "The three things we've called for is that, firstly, the Government should publish the scientific advice behind the rationale for the June 1 date to create transparency.

"Secondly, we've said the track-and-trace system needs to be in place and, thirdly, what we've said is the Government needs to bring parent groups, teachers and trade unions together to try and find a consensus to raise some of the concerns that have been raised."