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Serious doubts raised over government’s “test and trace” pledge

Experts are seriously doubtful that the government’s “test and trace” programme will be up and running by the start of June, as Boris Johnson has promised.

Johnson yesterday pledged at PMQs that the government’s system for tracking and tracing coronavirus will be functional by the start of next month – when lockdown restrictions are due to be further eased.

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However, experts are not convinced.

Speaking on talkRADIO this morning, former NHS trust chairman Roy Lilley said he’s not confident the system will be in place by the end of next week.

“If you look at all the others things we’ve been promised that have either been delivered late or not worked, there’s a huge credibility gap that we’ve got to overcome,” Lilley said.

Meanwhile, speaking on the same programme, Public Accounts Select Committee chair Meg Hillier echoed Lilley’s remarks.

“Well I don’t think by the end of next week it can possibly be up and running,” she said.

“It’s a pretty herculean task.”

The purpose of “test and trace” is to monitor – and hopefully control – the spread of the virus across the country. It’s a system modelled on South Korea, which has only seen 300 coronavirus deaths so far.

However, in the UK, we’re still lagging well behind our testing targets, and we’ve only just started recruiting our first batch of contact tracers.

Meanwhile, shrewd observers will have noticed the government has dropped “track” from its “test, track and trace” pledge.

That’s because the NHS coronavirus app has run into issues, as we reported last week.

It’s no wonder no-one has faith in the government to get the job done.