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Boris Johnson says people need ‘confidence’ to return to work as he defends ‘world-beating’ test and trace scheme

Boris Johnson says people need ‘confidence’ to return to work as he defends ‘world-beating’ test and trace scheme

Boris Johnson said there were “real signs of strength in the UK economy" (PA)

3 min read

Boris Johnson has 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. 

Speaking during a visit to Warrington, the Prime Minister also 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.

Speaking to Sky News, Mr Johnson insisted that there were “real signs of strength in the UK economy".

But he added: "Unquestionably it will require people to have the confidence to go back to work in a Covid-secure way.

"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."

It comes after Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick was asked if he was concerned that London is being "hollowed out" due to many offices remaining empty.

He told LBC: "Well I am very concerned about London and city centres more generally.

"You are seeing people starting to go back into town centres and obviously using local shops in villages and rural areas, but many of our city centres are very quiet and we need to get back into them, using the Chancellor's Eat Out To Help Out scheme, going to visit the shops safely, it can be done.

"Shops and the hospitality industry are going to great lengths to make sure that they're following social distancing guidelines and those of us that can do so need to get out and support them now or else we will see, I'm afraid, further job losses and a loss of some of those fantastic businesses that we see in our cities."

‘WORLD-BEATING’?

When asked if the NHS contact tracing system was really “world-beating”, Mr 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."

Mr Johnson 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.” 
 

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