Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth has called for improved coronavirus testing and tracing this August in time for schools to reopen in September.
Speaking with talkRADIO’s Julia Hartley-Brewer, the Labour MP said: “This is not a time for Boris Johnson to be putting his feet up…he’s got to be getting this test and trace system fixed.”
“Children getting back into school this September has to be our absolute national priority, the long term implications of children not being in school is potentially devastating for them and their life chances.”
He urged the government to scale up testing of people with or without symptoms as well as helping those who are told to isolate by the tracing system to allow them to do so.
“You see in the figures that infection rates are going up in poorer areas and there is a suggestion that this is because a lot of the time people are asked to isolate who simply cannot afford to do so,” he added.
His comments follow a study that yesterday warned, in a worst case scenario, that without testing and tracing at the required level when schools return and wider society opens up there could be a second wave twice as bad as the first.
The government has insisted that all pupils will return to the classroom on a full time basis at the start of term.
Meanwhile, the Children’s Commissioner for England has published a paper to say that schools must be prioritised over pubs and shops in planning for future pandemics.
Anne Longfield told Julia: “I want us to learn from what’s happened in the first six months and actually make schools a priority so they are the last doors to close and the first doors to open if decisions need to be made.”
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