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Labour: Johnson needs to act on lack of Covid testing capacity rather than ‘make promises he can't keep’

LABOUR demanded today that the government stop making promises it can’t keep on Covid-19, as more issues came to light over Britain’s lack of testing capacity.

During Prime Minister’s Questions, PM Boris Johnson defended his troubled Covid-19 testing system amid mounting fears of a second wave of coronavirus in care homes this winter.

Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner told him “we don’t have weeks” to sort problems with the testing system, which has seen shortfalls across at least 10 Covid-19 hotspots.

Ms Rayner, standing in for leader Sir Keir Starmer, told MPs that Mr Johnson “can’t deliver on his promises” despite having had six months to “get this right.”

She urged him to “get some skates on” in delivering testing and personal protective equipment (PPE) to care homes ahead of an expected second wave over the colder months.

Mr Johnson said that the government would be announcing a “further winter care-home action plan” on Thursday.

He added that, to the best of his knowledge, care homes in the country “should get weekly tests for all staff members and tests every 28 days for… the residents in the care homes.”

But Ms Rayner replied: “I heard what the Prime Minister had to say, but I have to say to him today the chief executive of Care England said ‘we were promised weekly testing for staff, that has not been delivered’.

“Time and time again he makes promises, then breaks those promises. In June he told this House ‘I can undertake now to get all tests turned in 24 hours by the end of June’.

“They’ve had six months to get this right and yet the Prime Minister still can’t deliver on his promises.

“The Health Secretary said today it would take weeks to sort this situation out. We don’t have weeks.”

Mr Johnson urged only those who need a test to get one.

He said: “The British people, quite understandably, are responding to that system, with a huge, huge surge in demand.

“And so it’s very important that everybody follows the guidance about when they should be getting a test.”

Ms Rayner said that Sir Keir was not able to attend PMQs, and his children could not go to school, because his family had to wait for their coronavirus test results despite Mr Johnson’s promise of results within 24 hours.


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