Support 100 years of independent journalism.

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

Track and trace system may not be fully developed for “several weeks“, justice secretary admits

By Samuel Horti

The government’s coronavirus track and trace system may not be fully operational for several weeks, Justice Secretary Robert Buckland has admitted, putting ministers on a collision course with the government’s scientific advisers.

Asked whether the NHS tracing app, which forms one part of the system, would be in place for the reopening of schools on 1 June, Buckland told the BBC: “I’m hoping we will see the tracing system start to work by that time.”

But he added: “I think it won’t necessarily be as widespread and as full-blown as we would like, I think that would develop over the next several weeks, over the next month or so.”

He said he could not claim the tracing system would be “fully developed” over the next week, “but I’m confident that will develop quickly”.

Yesterday, government scientific advisers warned that lockdown should not be further lifted until an effective track and trace system was in place. Angela McLean, the deputy chief scientific adviser, said lifting further measures required a “highly effective ‘track, trace and isolate’ system to be in place”. John Edmunds, another government scientific adviser, said a “well-functioning track and trace” system needed to be “embedded and working well”.

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 newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.

Content from our partners
How do we secure the hybrid office?
How materials innovation can help achieve net zero and level-up the UK
Fantastic mental well-being strategies and where to find them