Health Protection (Coronavirus, Local COVID-19 Alert Level) (High) (England) Regulations 2020 - Motion to Approve

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 5:08 pm on 14th October 2020.

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Photo of Lord Lucas Lord Lucas Conservative 5:08 pm, 14th October 2020

My Lords, I am grateful to the Government for their efforts to reduce the spread of coronavirus and I am pleased to have avoided it myself so far. It has had a pretty severe effect on some of my friends and relations.

Picking up on a point made by the noble Lord, Lord Greaves. I would be interested to know what the Government make of the Japanese approach to the pandemic. It focuses on cluster-busting, which is a conviction that the disease runs in clusters so that many people who get the disease do not spread it, but some will spread it excessively. The way to find the most cases most quickly is by backward tracing. In that way, a cluster can be found quickly, which is where most of the spreading takes place. I understand that there may be some reluctance to apply this technique in areas where there is a high incidence of the disease, but I would have thought that, in those areas which are mercifully relatively free of it, it should be the principal technique employed in order to keep us free of it. I ask this because it has worked so signally well in Japan.

There has to be quite aggressive backward tracing and a need to go at it hard. But it is possible to use cheap, low-sensitivity tests to uncover the cluster. You do not need the slower but more accurate tests that we seem to be using at the moment. I hope very much that the Government are picking up on this idea and will be able to give the noble Lord, Lord Greaves, and me an encouraging answer.