Redbridge Council leader says test and trace plan is ‘half-baked’ but Conservatives accuse him of scare-mongering

Cllr Jas Athwal said the current NHS Test and Trace system is inadequate and weeks away from being f

Cllr Jas Athwal said the current NHS Test and Trace system is inadequate and weeks away from being fully functional. - Credit: PA

The leader of Redbridge Council Jas Athwal says the government’s current test and trace plan isn’t fit for purpose and is weeks away from being fully functional.

Cllr Linda Huggett, the leader of the Conservative group, hit back saying Cllr Athwal was “playing party politics” and his comments would “scare people and fear for their safety.”

Cllr Athwal called the current system “inadequate” and said: “Test results are still often delayed, vital tracing data has not been shared with local authorities, and there is still no tracing app.

“Local authorities across the country need timely access to usable data before we can play our part in contact tracing and we need powers to enforce local lockdowns if the government deems it necessary.”

“We can only overcome Covid-19 by implementing a thorough, coordinated testing and tracing plan – with permanent local, accessible test centres, a user-friendly app or at least a working website, and necessary powers for local authorities.”

Cllr Huggett said the current test and trace system is effective and is part of the effort to defeat Covid-19 along with the production of a vaccine.

She said: “What Cllr Athwal has conveniently failed to mention is that during the past week only one person from Redbridge has tested positive for Covid-19 and that the R rate in Redbridge is down to an estimation of 0.4.

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“Whilst every positive test is one too many it does show the success of the government’s planning.

“We all still need to be vigilant to ensure that there is no second wave and we keep everyone safe and well.”

Cllr Athwal called the government’s plan “half-baked” and said local authorities were not given time to prepare, or the powers and resources to deliver.

Under the current test and trace system anyone who tests positive for coronavirus will be contacted to share information about their recent interactions.

The service aims to help identify, contain, and control and reduce the spread of the virus.

People identified as having been in close contact with someone who has a positive test must stay at home for 14 days, even if they do not have symptoms, to stop unknowingly spreading the virus.

For further information on NHS Track & Trace visit