Labour's Keir Starmer addressed the UK PM Boris Johnson during a parliamentary session on the government’s progress in rolling out a Covid-19 contact trace app.
"Unless someone with Covid-19 can name and identify everybody they’ve been in contact with, the app is the only way of tracing all known contacts,” opposition leader Keir Starmer said.
He referred to another MP’s question of how would one trace everyone in close contact at a seafront or in a park without an app.
“Up until last week the government maintained that the app was critical in a number of their slides but at the week the Health Secretary downplayed the app, saying it was only of additional support. So which is it, critical or not?”
During #PMQs today, @Keir_Starmer @UKLabour asked why two-thirds of those with Covid-19 had not been reached by the track and trace system, on resources for local councils, on child poverty claims and on the release of a Covid-19 tracing app.— UK House of Commons (@HouseofCommons) June 24, 2020
Watch: https://t.co/QW8nDOXsnU pic.twitter.com/B4eKhldTHZ
Johnson retaliated, challenging Starmer to name “a single country in the world that has a functional contact tracing app because there isn’t one.”
The Labour leader, in turn, named Germany as the country with an app that working on 15 June and 12 million downloads. He then asked when the government will roll out an app that has been promised by the Tories since mid-May.
“We spent 12 million on this. Other countries are ahead of us. When are we going to have a working app?” Starmer said.
Boris Johnson said that a tracing app would be an “icing on the cake,” referring to the already existing NHS Test and Trace service.
Last week, the government announced that it was still working on the app, bringing it forward and including the work done by the Google/Apple framework.
“Our ambition is to develop an app which will enable anyone with a smartphone to engage with every aspect of the NHS Test and Trace service, from ordering a test through to accessing the right guidance and advice. This will support our vision of helping more people get back to the most normal life possible at the lowest risk,” said the Department of Health.
News of a tracing app in works have not resided well with everyone, as some took to social media to express their concern with the legalities and the breach of privacy when it comes to contact tracing technology.
What's this 'we' businesses? Some people don't want the Gov to bug their phone.— Linda Taylor (@LindaL16) June 24, 2020
So umm... there’s a COVID-19 exposure log trying to sync with my Bluetooth and Health app, and I definitely did not download or consent to adding the exposure log (contact tracing tool) to my phone.— Caroline Orr (@RVAwonk) June 20, 2020
WTF is this? pic.twitter.com/OyfHbxZhP1
Currently, Germany, France, Australia, Singapore and Latvia have a functioning coronavirus tracing app.