Covid-19 Response

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:57 pm on 22nd April 2020.

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Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn Labour, Islington North 12:57 pm, 22nd April 2020

First, I want to pay tribute briefly to all those health workers, care workers, delivery workers, street cleaners and cleaners, and so many other groups all over the country, who are doing such an incredible job, together with all the volunteers, to deal with this crisis. It is an amazing moment in this country’s history. However, Parliament’s job is to hold the Government to account, so I have a simple question. The World Health Organisation indicated that there was a danger of an epidemic from coronavirus in January—it later declared this to be a pandemic. The WHO’s director general said, in terms, that the way to deal with it is by “test, test , test”, in order to ascertain the levels of infection across our society, but we did not do that. The Secretary of State came to the House in January to say that he was going to increase the amount of testing. This issue was raised with the Prime Minister on 24 February and again in a meeting we had in March, at which the Secretary of State was present. He told us then that the level of testing would increase, but it is still nowhere near the level that is necessary. Can he assure us that there is going to be a really rapid increase in the level and availability of testing, in order to get on top of this dreadful virus?