Cabinet minister defends test and trace system amid reported issues

Friday, May 29, 2020

Environment Secretary George Eustice has defended the government’s coronavirus test and trace system after reports its launch was plagued with problems.

The service, which tracks down and alerts those who may have been infected with Covid-19, has been rolled out across England but the Health Department admitted some staff encountered technical issues.

Challenged on the criticism by talkRADIO’s Julia Hartley-Brewer, Mr Eustice said “It was only launched yesterday.

“I understand that phone calls were made, that tracing approach has already begun and we’ve got 25,000 people recruited to do this.”

The Cabinet minister added that the scheme will be important in moving from a blanket lockdown to a more targeted approach.

However, while human tracers take on the task of locating possible movements of the virus, the accompanying app has been delayed by several weeks.

And MPs have said they were told the test and trace programme would not be operational at a local level until the end of June.

Labour MP Ben Bradshaw said he asked Baroness Dido Harding, executive chairwoman of the programme, whether his local authority in Devon was correct in thinking local plans did not need to be in place until the end of next month.

He said: “She confirmed that, yes, the local operational rollout of this would not happen until the end of June.”

Boris Johnson has promised that an effective system would be up and running by June 1.

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