Liberal Democrats

This government’s test and trace shambles

It’s clear the test and trace system in the UK is on its knees. Ministers have failed the public.

By Munira Wilson, Sep 21, 2020 10:09

On May 20th, Boris Johnson declared that the UK would have a ‘world-beating’ coronavirus test, track and trace system in place by June 1st. Instead, four months later the UK is facing a testing crisis.

The British public are confronting the reality that we may be facing a second wave of coronavirus with a test and trace system that is just inadequate. It is unacceptable.

Throughout the summer, I continuously warned this government that with no cure and no vaccine for COVID-19, the risk of a second wave was very real. We needed a robust test, trace and isolate regime to move forward, especially in time for children returning to school.

Yet here we are, and test and trace has reported its worst contact tracing figures since it launched.

It’s clear the test and trace system in the UK is on its knees. It is unfathomable that medical professionals, on whom we all rely, are finding that they are unable to access vital tests.

I have been inundated with emails from constituents in Twickenham who have been unable to access a either a local drive-through or home test. Some have told me they have been advised to use a Scottish postcode in order to get a local coronavirus test.  Others across the UK have received the same information. It’s nothing less than a shambles. 

How can the public have any faith in this government when they see what’s happening on the ground with this ‘world-beating’ system? 

Ministers have failed to deliver a comprehensive strategy and in turn have put the public’s health at risk. We deserve to know what has gone wrong.

Given the multitude of mistakes made by Ministers throughout the pandemic, an inquiry must be launched so that all levels of government can learn lessons to prevent further spread of the virus.

If we are to prevent a second wave and keep people safe, we need rapid action to bring our test and trace system up to scratch, as well as absolute clarity in public health messaging. If the government can't get these basics right, it will be difficult for people to have any faith in their promises for the future.

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