Wednesday 24 June 2020 5:28 pm

UK coronavirus death toll rises by 154 as Johnson lambasted for track and trace app

A further 154 people in the UK have died after contracting coronavirus, the Department for Health and Social Care announced, as Prime Minister Boris Johnson was accused of misleading the public over the UK’s trace and trace app in the Commons this lunchtime.

The 154 coronavirus-related deaths announced today takes the total number of Covid-19 deaths in the UK to 43,081. 

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The figure takes into account people who have died in hospitals, care homes and the wider community after testing positive for coronavirus in the UK as of 5pm yesterday. It does not include all deaths involving coronavirus in the UK, which are thought to have exceeded 54,000.

The Department for Health added that 232,086 tests were carried out or dispatched in the 24 hours up to 9am today, of which 653 came back positive for coronavirus. The figure for the number of people tested has been “temporarily paused to ensure consistent reporting” across all methods of testing.

It comes as the Prime Minister was accused of “giving dodgy answers” as he faced questions from the opposition over the UK’s track and trace system in the Commons today.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said it was a “big problem” that just over 10,000 people with coronavirus had been reached through the NHS’s contact tracing programme, despite estimates of 33,000 cases.

Johnson yesterday unveiled the government’s plan to allow the UK to emerge from its “great national hibernation” by reopening pubs, restaurants, cinemas, art galleries and hairdressers on 4 July.

But Starmer joined health chiefs in warning that doing so carried a “real risk” of a second wave of infections, adding that easing lockdown restrictions relied on an effective tracing app. 

“Other countries are ahead of us. When are we going to have a working app?” said the Labour leader.

The UK government spent £12m developing and trialling an NHS contact tracing app, which Johnson claimed would be “world-beating”. The app was scrapped last week, after it was revealed it had flaws detecting iPhones.

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Johnson landed himself in hot water with his claim that “no country has a working contact-tracing app”, as Starmer pointed out that Germany’s version of the app has received more than 12m downloads since its launch on 16 June. 

Independent fact checking charity Full Fact noted that “multiple countries have launched apps, including Germany, France, Australia, Singapore and Latvia”.

The UK is now seeking to adopt an existing model in cooperation with Apple and Google, despite previously ruling that out. 

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