Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Science & Tech
  2. Coronavirus
18 May 2020updated 06 Oct 2020 9:45am

No 10 casts doubt on whether contact tracing will be ready this month

By Samuel Horti

The Prime Minister’s spokesman has cast doubt over whether the UK’s contact tracing system will be ready before June, after the government originally said it would available mid-May.

On 4 May, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the tracing system, which includes both an NHS app and 18,000 contact tracers recruited by the government, would be available “by the middle of this month”. Yesterday, Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove said it would be ready by the end of the month, but the Prime Minister’s spokesman’s today simply said it would be up and running “in the coming weeks”.

The spokesman said the government will have recruited all 18,000 contact tracers by the end of the week. Hancock initially said the “army” of contact tracers would be “available from the week commencing 18 May”.

The spokesman added that the government could consider further easing lockdown measures before the track and tracing system was in place. It was not an essential condition of relaxing more measures, he said – other factors would be considered, such as the virus’s reproduction rate.

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. A handy, three-minute glance at the week ahead in companies, markets, regulation and investment, landing in your inbox every Monday morning. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A weekly dig into the New Statesman’s archive of over 100 years of stellar and influential journalism, sent each Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.

(Image credit: WPA Pool / Getty Images)

Content from our partners
How automation can help telecoms companies unlock their growth potential
The pandemic has had a scarring effect on loneliness, but we can do better
Feel confident gifting tech to your children this Christmas