British Prime Minister Boris Johnson sparred with opposition Labor leader Keir Starmer in Parliament Wednesday about Johnson’s strategies for dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic in Britain.
Considering Johnson’s announcement Tuesday that much of Britain would reopen, effective July 4, Starmer said local leaders across the country do not have the proper guidance or powers to implement lockdowns, should there be a spike in coronavirus cases. He asked Johnson to define what a local lockdown might look like and what guidance those leaders might expect to receive.
Johnson dismissed Starmer’s criticism, saying the government had a “very effective cluster-busting operation” in place, and local governments understand how it works.
Speaking about the National Health Service’s "track-and-trace" app, Starmer said 33,000 people are estimated to have COVID-19 in England, but only 10,000 people with the virus were reached by contact tracers. The opposition leader noted, "This is a big gap," and warned that if the app isn't running, "we can't open the economy."
Johnson said the Labor leader was giving a "false impression" of what the NHS app is doing and said that it is a "formidable achievement." He said “no country currently has a functioning track-and-trace app.”
Starmer noted Germany’s app, which reports say has been downloaded 10 million times. Italy, Singapore and South Korea also have tracing apps in use.