Coronavirus 15 May 2020 Government long way off recruiting 18,000 contact tracers, Lewis admits Sign UpGet the New Statesman's Morning Call email. Sign-up Less than a tenth of the 18,000 people the government needs to recruit for its coronavirus contact tracing system were in place at the latest count, Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis has said. Ministers have said the government will hire 18,000 contact tracers by Monday, 18 May. They will help co-ordinate the tracing and tracking of people that have coronavirus, as well as the close contacts of anyone with the virus. Their work will supplement the NHS's contact tracing app. The government has received around 15,000 applications and, at a count earlier this week, around 1,500 had been hired, Lewis said. "As of this morning I’m not sure of exactly how many of the 15,000 have been hired, earlier in the week it was about 1,500, it would have gone up since then," he told Sky News. › Morning briefing: Doctors gagged over face masks Subscribe For more great writing from our award-winning journalists subscribe for just £1 per month!