“This is not a joke”: Hancock laughs at failure to launch Covid app

Elliot Chappell

Dr Rosena Allin-Khan has said that “this is not a joke” in response to Matt Hancock laughing about the failure of the government to launch the coronavirus app alongside the test, track and trace system.

Reacting to a Sky News interview with the Health Secretary this morning, the shadow minister for mental health and A&E doctor tweeted her frustration at his response when asked about the roll-out of contact tracing in the UK.

Allin-Khan wrote: “What an insult. At least 37,000 people have died of Covid-19 in the UK. Govt abandoned community testing. With a proper test and trace system in place months ago, thousands would have been saved.”

She added. “This is not a joke. This has been painful for so many families.”

The Health Secretary was asked whether he is rushing the introduction of the test and trace system by rolling it out before a Covid-19 app is ready. The government had previously said that the app was “essential” to the system.

He laughed throughout his response, and said: “It’s priceless Kay, I’m usually accused of delaying these things and bringing them in too slowly.”

NHS staff are today making their first phone calls to people who will be told to self-isolate as part of the new tracing program. This manual tracing has been rolled out alone, despite concerns it will be too slow.

The coronavirus app is currently being piloted on the Isle of Wight and is not ready to be implemented more widely. The 25,000 tracers will start work by contacting 2,013 people who tested positive for Covid-19 on Wednesday.

After the Health Secretary initially announced that the app would be introduced in “mid-May”, its launch was delayed. The government has been unable to confirm whether it is on track to be launched in June.

According to Public Health England, 37,460 people have now died from “Covid-19 associated deaths” in the UK. The organisation reports a current total of 267,240 lab-confirmed cases.

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