A Cabinet minister has bemoaned “endless carping” about problems with coronavirus testing and claimed the current system is a “phenomenal success”.
The government is under increasing pressure after many people reported problems in being able to get a COVID-19 test, as well as them being advised to travel to distant parts of the country to secure one.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has admitted there is not enough testing capacity after demand “massively accelerated” in recent weeks.
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But his Cabinet minister Jacob Rees-Mogg, Leader of the House of Commons, on Thursday called for people to be “reasonable” about the issue.
Describing how he himself had to self-isolate while a member of his family awaited a coronavirus test, Mr Rees-Mogg told MPs: “We all have an obligation to try and stop a dangerous disease spreading.
“But the issue of testing is one where we have gone from a disease that nobody knew about a few months ago to one where nearly a quarter of a million people a day can be tested.
“And the prime minister is expecting that to go up to half a million people a day by the end of October.
“And instead of this endless carping, saying it is difficult to get them, we should actually celebrate the phenomenal success of the British nation in getting up to a quarter of a million tests of a disease that nobody knew about until earlier in the year.
“That is a success of our scientists, our health experts and of our administration.
“Yes there’s demand for more, yes demand exceeds supply – but it is growing, the supply is increasing and what is being done is really rather remarkable and something we should be proud of.”
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Mr Rees-Mogg made his comments in response to Labour’s shadow Commons leader Valerie Vaz, who claimed the government’s approach to testing was “all talk, talk and no test, test”.
Speaking after the Commons exchanges, Labour’s shadow public health minister Alex Norris called on Mr Rees-Mogg to apologise.
He said: “For weeks, people across the country have been struggling to get coronavirus tests.
“But rather than fixing problems, the government has instead resorted to a blizzard of blame shifting and excuses.
“Now, out-of-touch ministers have got a new message to those who can’t get tests: ‘stop complaining and praise us’.
“Jacob Rees-Mogg should immediately apologise.
“Whining about the public not being grateful enough won’t sort anything – only his government can fix the testing shambles they are presiding over.”
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