Improved coronavirus testing the ‘one way’ out of London-lockdown, says Ilford South MP

Ilford South MP Sam Tarry has spoken about what needs to be done to avoid a London lockdown. Picture

Ilford South MP Sam Tarry has spoken about what needs to be done to avoid a London lockdown. Picture: Sam Tarry - Credit: Archant

Improved coronavirus testing is the only way to avoid another lockdown, Ilford South MP Sam Tarry.

Speaking on BBC Radio London last night (September 28), he addressed the prospect of a London-lockdown: “The one way to get out of this, and other countries have done it, they’ve done it more effectively, is to get the test, track and trace system working and have more capacity in the testing centres.”

Describing the situation where people are told they can’t get a test after attending a centre as “appalling”, Mr Tarry admitted losing patience with the government: “We should not be in a situation where we have had the rug pulled out from our feet. At the beginning, Labour was saying ‘Let’s be constructive, support the government’. We still want the government to succeed — people’s lives are at stake. But it’s been nine months now, how long do they need to get it right?”

This criticism comes following recent revelations that fewer than three in five close contacts of people with coronavirus in Redbridge are being reached through test and trace, with the borough itself also losing 44 per cent of its testing capacity in recent weeks.

It also follows issues found at the Mildmay Road testing centre two weeks ago, where testing problems led to the situation being deemed an ‘absolute shambles’.

Mr Tarry and Ilford North colleague Wes Streeting MP wrote to health secretary Matt Hancock following this; a fortnight later, and the former remains unsatisfied with how testing is being handled.

The Ilford South MP also argued that government decision makers are “dragging their feet” over a London-lockdown due to the economic risk: “If London gets hit, the rest of the country’s economy also gets hit. Lots of businesses only just clung on by their fingernails.”

He also foresees compliance problems should the capital go into lockdown: “It really has been so, so damaging to see our government and government advisors just regularly flouting the very advice they’re telling us to take. That’s what I’ve had thrown back in my face so many times by constituents after we’ve been asking them to listen to the government regulations.”

A department of health and social care spokesperson said: “In response to the growing number of cases in London, we are increasing testing capacity in the capital, as well as adding new testing sites on a weekly basis. This is in addition to the thousands of tests that take place every day in the city.

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“NHS Test and Trace is providing tests at an unprecedented scale — 225,000 a day on average over the last week — with the vast majority of people getting tested within six miles of their home.”