Boris Johnson has claimed testing and tracing has “very little or nothing to do with the spread and transmission” of coronavirus, after being confronted over the failures of the current system.
The prime minister’s claim comes despite the government’s promise that NHS Test and Trace would “help identify, contain and control coronavirus, reduce the spread of the virus and save lives” when it launched in May.
The service is designed to catch people infected with Covid-19 through testing, then isolate their recent close contacts and asking them to self isolate in an attempt to stop the virus spreading further than that circle.
It is an approach that has been praised in countries like South Korea, where the virus has been kept largely under control compared to the UK.
Johnson was attempting to defend NHS Test and Trace amid a string of embarrassing failures, which critics say have contributed to the surge in infections that prompted new restrictions announced on Wednesday.
During a debate in the Commons on Tuesday, the PM claimed: “Testing and tracing has very little or nothing to do with the spread and transmission of the disease.
“The spread and the transmission of the disease is caused by contact between human beings and all the things that we’re trying to minimise.”
Shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth said Johnson was talking “nonsense”, stressing: “When testing breaks down, tracing breaks down, you can’t track the virus and you lose control.”
Here Johnson talks nonsense & reveals he doesn’t even know what he’s doing.— Jonathan Ashworth 😷 (@JonAshworth) September 22, 2020
When testing breaks down, tracing breaks down, you can’t track the virus and you lose control.
Johnson let testing become a shambles & now the country has been placed under new national restrictions. https://t.co/cg03MNYNwQ
In May, health secretary Matt Hancock said NHS Test and Trace would be “vital to stopping the spread of the virus” and would “help us...