"The government needs to get a grip of testing or schools will close again“

“After six months of closure for most pupils, schools are again at risk of shutting. The issue threatening them today is not just a resurgence of Covid-19 but the failure of the government’s testing system.

“Here in Cheltenham an entire year group of one of our largest secondaries has been sent home. A primary school has sent children with coughs and sneezes home until they can be tested and shown to be Covid-free. But the necessary testing is not available. Why is this, when other countries, such as Germany, have long had an effective and efficient Test and Trace system?

“The answer is that the professionals of Public Health, who have years of experience in testing and tracing - for example for sexually transmitted diseases - have long been deprived of funds and have now been side-lined. Instead billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money has been funnelled into the inexperienced, outsourced alternative run by the Prime Minister’s friend Dido Harding, who will now be in charge of reorganising Public Health England in the middle of a pandemic. It’s as if the Fire Brigade has been deliberately weakened, and then reorganised during a fire.

“The Government now needs to focus on getting a grip of coronavirus testing. Unless it does then teachers’ warnings that their schools may have to close again could yet come about.“

Cllr Iain Dobie - Lib Dem County Councillor for Leckhampton and Warden Hill and group spokesperson on Health and Social Care.

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