PMQs: Keir Starmer berates Boris Johnson over contact tracing app

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Sir Keir Starmer has taken Boris Johnson to task over the government’s efforts to produce a working coronavirus contact tracing app.

During PMQs today the Labour leader pressed his despatch box rival over how important the technology was in combatting the spread of Covid-19.

He said: “Up until last week, the government maintained that the app was critical.

“But at the weekend (Health Secretary Matt Hancock) downplayed the app, saying it was only ever additional support. So which is it – critical or not?”

The Prime Minister insisted that the government had always treated a contact tracing app as “the icing on the cake” of its NHS Test and Trace scheme.

Mr Johnson claimed that no other country in the world had managed to develop a properly functioning app.

“If we can get it to work it’ll be a fine thing but there isn’t one anywhere in the world so far,” he said.

Sir Keir claimed that Germany had produced an app that had been downloaded 12 million times.

A UK app was piloted on the Isle of Wight in early May and was due to be rolled out nationwide by the middle of that month.

The release date was then pushed back to early June but ministers have now said that it will not be ready until the winter.

The Isle of Wight app worked by using bluetooth proximity information to alert the user when they have been in close contact with someone who has reported Covid-19 symptoms.

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