Ministers should talk frankly to the public about problems in the private laboratories they chose to deliver a vital service
The coronavirus testing system isn’t working. That this should be so, barely a week after many schools have returned and before most students have gone back to university, is extremely worrying. Already, some pupils have been sent home amid reports of queues, mixed messages and rejections from testing centres around the country. Months after Boris Johnson promised that the UK would have a “world-beating” test, track and trace system by 1 June, the “Moonshot” project to deliver 10m tests by early next year, which was announced last week, looks more like pie in the sky as each day passes.
Several months into the pandemic, it should not be beyond the capacity of ministers, in partnership with the NHS and others, to meet the current, more modest demand for tests. Yet, arrangements seem to be breaking down just when they are needed most. And as people struggle to reconcile official instructions to return to work and education with what they know about the risks of the virus, the likelihood of further serious disruption to millions of lives only increases.