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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.

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