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Sun, 31 May 2020

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PMQs: Boris Johnson claims UK will have ‘world-beating’ system to trace 10,000 coronavirus cases per day ready by 1 June

PMQs: Boris Johnson claims UK will have ‘world-beating’ system to trace 10,000 coronavirus cases per day ready by 1 June

Boris Johnson made the claim at Prime Minister's Questions (PA)

3 min read

Boris Johnson has claimed the UK will have a “world-beating" system to test, track and trace for coronavirus up and running by 1 June.

Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions he said he has "growing confidence” the Government will be able to deliver it by the end of the month when schools are expected to start re-opening classrooms.

They plan to be able to trace the contacts of up to 10,000 new cases a day, having already recruited 24,000 trackers.

Mr Johnson made the announcement under heavy pressure from opposition leader Sir Keir Starmer, who said while two million Covid-19 tests have been carried out, there’s been no effective tracing in place since 12 March.

“That’s nearly 10 weeks in a critical period without effective tracing,” he said.

“That’s a huge hole in our defences, isn’t it Prime Minister?”

In response Mr Johnson accused the Labour leader of a “sort of feigned ignorance” on the issue, saying he has been given “repeated briefings” and is “perfectly aware of the situation in the UK as regards testing and tracing in early March”.

He added: “But what I can tell him is that I am confident we will have a test and trace operation that will enable us, if all the other conditions are satisfied, and it’s entirely provisional, will enable us to make progress. 

“And I can tell him also that by the 1st of June, already we’ve recruited 24,000 trackers and by the 1st of June we’ll 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 vast progress in testing and tracing and I have ‘great confidence’ that by June the 1st that will enable us, that will help us very greatly, to defeat this disease and move the country forward. 

“And I hope therefore he will abandon his slightly negative tone and support it.”

In testy scenes Sir Keir rejected the claims about his tone, saying “34,000 deaths is negative, of course I’m going to ask about that, and quite right too”.

He also asked that given the PM goes out to clap for our carers: “Does the Prime Minister think that it’s right that care workers coming from abroad and working on our frontline should have to pay a surcharge of hundreds, sometimes thousands of pounds, to use the NHS themselves?”

Mr Johnson said it was right to increase the cost to non-EU migrant care worker for treatment from £400 to £624 in October.

He replied: "I’ve thought a great deal about this and I do accept and I do understand the difficulties faced by our NHS staff and like him, I’ve been a personal beneficiary of people who’ve come from abroad and frankly saved my life. 

“On the other hand, we must look at the realities, this is a great national service, it’s a national institution, it needs funding, and those contributions actually help us to raise about £900million and it’s very difficult in the current circumstances to find alternative sources. 

“With great respect to the point that he makes, I think that is the right way forward.”

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