WATCH: Test and trace system “on verge of collapse”, says Labour

Rachel Reeves has described the test, trace and isolate programme as “on the verge of collapse” and said that “people are being sent on wild goose chases around the country for tests”.

In an interview with Sky News this morning, the Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster highlighted the discrepancy between the level of capacity described by the government and the number of tests being carried out.

Reeves commented on claims by the Health Secretary that people are unable to book a test because the proportion of those asking for them who have no symptoms has risen.

She said: “If the testing capacity is limited, of course that needs to be focused on those who have symptoms. But the Health Secretary said earlier this week that he wants to get to a system of mass testing where we’re testing 10,000 people a week.

“At the moment, the government are failing to get even the basics right. This is a government who promised a world-beating system. Frankly, at the moment, we would just like one that works and we don’t even have that.

“The test and trace system is frankly on the verge of collapse. People are being sent on wild goose chases around the country for tests – and these are people who have symptoms.”

She added: “It’s all well and good for the country to say we have a record level of capacity, but we’re not using all that capacity because the number of tests conducted every day does not meet the capacity.”

The comments from Reeves follow a spike in Covid-19 cases, which has prompted warnings that people have “relaxed too much” and the introduction of restrictions limiting the maximum number of people you can socialise with to six in England.

Members of the public attempting to get a coronavirus test have reported being unable to get one, with the error message “system is currently unavailable” being displayed for several days.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock told Sky News this morning: “We have seen an increase in demand including from people who are not eligible for tests, people who don’t have symptoms.”

He added: “You are eligible for a test if you have symptoms of coronavirus or if you have a very specific reason otherwise. We have seen an increase, and about 25% of people who are coming forward don’t have symptoms and aren’t eligible.”

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