Push on Covid testing at ports needed, says Labour

Shaun Connolly, PA Political Correspondent
·2-min read

Spare capacity in the coronavirus testing system should be used to help deal with the situation at British ports, Labour has said.

Shadow chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster Rachel Reeves insisted ministers needed to stop “dithering” and take decisive action to deal with the “chaos” at the UK border.

The remarks came after bans on travel and the movement of freight traffic were imposed by France and other countries due to the Covid-19 crisis amid concerns over the spread of a new variant of coronavirus.

Ms Reeves insisted the Government should urgently direct mobile testing centres and spare testing capacity to ports.

The shadow cabinet member said that Government figures show unused testing capacity is around 300,000 tests per day.

And that over December on average, it only used 50% of its testing capacity.

People carry out asymptomatic testing (Andrew Milligan/PA)
People carry out asymptomatic testing (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Ms Reeves said that with some 6,000 freight drivers passing through the border per day, “the UK’s capacity is more than enough to have daily tests at ports”.

Labour also called for councils and local public health teams to be given “a key leadership role in contact tracing and data”, and start using “retrospective” contract tracing to contain the spread of infection.

The shadow chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster, said: “The Government itself has admitted it has lost control of the virus.

“The Prime Minister must end the dither and delay, and take decisive action to save lives and secure the economy.

“The Government should follow Labour’s plan and get to grips with the situation.

“Failure to do so will put our NHS under even greater pressure, and increase strain on already stretched families and businesses.

“The Prime Minister must also finally conclude his long-promised trade deal with the EU so the Government can turn its full attention to the developing Covid crisis.”

Labour also called on the Government to hold daily press conferences on the coronavirus situation.