Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair adviced Boris Johnson that testing for coronavirus in the UK must be massively ramped up to reduce the stringent measures placed upon the country in lockdown.
Despite the Government’s pledge to ramp up testing for coronavirus, many still feel that not enough is being done to identify who is positive or negative. Former Prime Minister Tony Blair spoke to Sky’s Sophy Ridge about why he thought it was “absolutely crucial” for Boris Johnson to enact mass testing now. Mr Blair told viewers that this could be “one route” out of the lockdown and severe measures placed upon the UK to contain the spread of COVID-19.
He said: “I think, and I offer this not as criticism but as constructive advice, in my view it is all about getting to mass testing as fast as possible.
“We have to know who has the disease and who has had the disease in order to get the lockdown eased and get back to some semblance of normality.
“It’s been about, of course, organising the NHS to respond to this crisis.
“But the issue of testing, both the PCR test to say who has the disease and the antibody test to say who has had it and therefore may be immune to it, these are the absolutely crucial things.”
Mr Blair continued: “This could be one route out of the lockdown and the more realistic, and only, way of easing the measures.
“Obviously the NHS frontline staff come first in testing, but what is the conundrum of the coronavirus crisis?
“The conundrum, or the dilemma if you like, is that only a small number of people are actually going to have a life threatening version of it.
“But a small percentage of a very large number is still a large number.”
The former Labour leader added: “That’s why it’s absolutely right that we’re taking the measures of social distancing.
“But, in the end, the vast majority of the population will be capable of going back to work, and will either have had the disease and our immune or had a milder version of the disease or won’t get it at all.
“The problem is, unless you know who’s had it or has it, and those that don’t, then it’s very hard to see how you return to normal life.”
Mr Blair also said: “Your risk, obviously, is as you start to ease the lockdown, how do you then deal with any resurgence of the disease?
“This, of course, is what they’re now dealing with in China and South Korea and elsewhere.
“Unless you have that testing capability that you can apply at scale.
“When I say mass testing, I actually think you’ll need to get to the point where you’ve got the capability, and I assume we’re preparing for this now, of testing literally a very large portion of the entire population.
“You may have to do those tests two or three different times because you need all the time to be able to track what’s happening with the disease, to learn where there might be a surge or hot spot of it and do something about it.”