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Part of Prime Minister – in the House of Commons on 6th May 2020.

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Photo of Boris Johnson Boris Johnson The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

As I think is readily apparent to everybody who has studied the situation, and I think the scientists would confirm, the difficulty in mid-March was that the tracing capacity that we had—it had been useful, as the right hon. and learned Gentleman rightly says, in the containment phase of the epidemic—was no longer useful or relevant, since the transmission from individuals within the UK exceeded our capacity.

The value of the test, tracking and tracing operation that we are setting up now is that, as we come out of the epidemic, and as we get the new cases down, we will have a team that is genuinely able to track and trace hundreds of thousands of people across the country, and thereby drive down the epidemic. To put it in a nutshell, it is easier to do now—now that we have built up the team on the way out—than it was as the epidemic took off. I think most people with common sense can see the particular difficulties that we had at the time.