Boris Johnson has been accused of making “dodgy” claims after he insisted no country had developed a functioning coronavirus tracking app.
The prime minister hit back after concerns raised in parliament that two-thirds of people with COVID-19 were not being picked up by the human workforce trying to contain new cases.
Labour’s Sir Keir Starmer called it a “big problem” and said an “effective” app was essential to easing lockdown.
Such an app was initially promised by the start of June but is now not expected to arrive until winter.
Sir Keir said the current system was only effective when people know the contact details of those they have been near – not others who they might sit next to in a park or on a beach.
But Mr Johnson asked if he could “name a single country in the world that has a functioning contact-tracing app because there isn’t one”.
He insisted there was already “a very successful test and trace operation” in the UK.
The prime minister accused opposition MPs of supporting it yesterday but “yo-yoing back again and saying it’s not good enough”.
Sir Keir shot back that Germany had a contact-tracing coronavirus app that has had more than 12 million downloads.
His spokesperson later said it was “another example of a dodgy answer from a prime minister who wasn’t across the detail”.
They continued: “There are other countries who are far ahead of us. Singapore has got an app, South Korea has an app.
“We have spent £12m on an app that hasn’t been launched. The point is, those countries are far, far ahead of us in terms of an app being rolled out nationwide.”
Earlier this week the government admitted it had spent £11.8m on the app that has been trialled on the Isle of Wight but not yet rolled out across the UK.
Other countries with functioning contact tracing apps include France, Australia, Singapore and Latvia.
Sam Coates, Sky News’ deputy political editor, said: “There is a legitimate question about the scale of downloads that have been done in each of those countries to mean that it has blanket coverage and therefore reasonable effectiveness in terms of its coverage of the population…
“The claim that there aren’t any apps functioning will come under some scrutiny for the prime minister.”
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