“Testing and tracing has very little or nothing to do with the spread or the transmission of the disease. The spread and the transmission of the disease is caused by contact between human beings and all the things that we are trying to minimise.”

Boris Johnson, House of Commons

September 22, 2020

Facts

Boris Johnson told the House of Commons that “Testing and tracing has very little or nothing to do with the spread or the transmission of the disease. The spread and the transmission of the disease is caused by contact between human beings and all the things that we are trying to minimise.” 

This directly contradicted the government’s own claim that NHS Test and Trace would “help identify, contain and control coronavirus, reduce the spread of the virus and save lives.” It was said that the service would “form a central part of the government’s coronavirus recovery strategy”. This is therefore yet another example of the Prime Minister’s tendency to make statements that are proved wrong by documents produced by the government he leads.

Johnson’s statement also contradicted comments made by then health secretary Matt Hancock in May. Hancock stated that NHS Test and Trace would be “vital to stopping the spread of the virus” and would “help us keep this virus under control while carefully and safely lifting the lockdown nationally.” 

Johnson’s comments came after Baroness Dido Harding, NHS Test and Trace chief, revealed that up to 750,000 requests for Covid-19 tests were going unanswered every day, while the government was falling short of its target to turn around 80% of test results within 24 hours.  

Verdict 

As so often happens, (see here, here and here) Boris Johnson was contradicting advice given by his own government. His statement was misleading. It remains on the House of Commons record, in defiance of the Ministerial Code.

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