Tuesday 6 October 2020 / 3:03 PM Coronavirus / Jonathan Ashworth

Matt Hancock admits he doesn’t know how many people are spreading Covid-19 due to Government Excel blunder

Matt Hancock has admitted in the House of Commons today (Tuesday) that he doesn’t know how many people could be spreading Covid-19 unknowingly as a result of the Government’s Excel blunder. 

At Health and Social Care Questions this morning, Jonathan Ashworth, Labour’s Shadow Health and Social Care Secretary asked: “Given the ONS has today said that deaths have increased for three weeks in a row, given the rising prevalence of the virus, can he understand the upset and anger over the Excel spreadsheet blunder? And can he tell us today what he couldn’t tell us yesterday: of the 48,000 contacts – not the index cases, the contacts – how many have been traced, and how many are now isolating?”

In response, Matt Hancock replied:

“We have obviously been continuing to contact both the index cases and the contacts – of course the total number of contacts depends on how many contacts each index case has so that information will of course be made available in the normal way when it has been completed but you can’t know in advance how many contacts there are because you have to do the interviews with the index cases first.”

Commenting on the admission, Jonathan Ashworth MP said:

“Because of this Government’s incompetence, there are potentially thousands of people who have been exposed to the virus who could be wandering around not knowing they were exposed and could be infecting people, and the Health Secretary couldn’t even tell us if they’ve been traced. Ministers urgently need to get a grip of their test and trace service.”